The Ben Simmons situation has officially come to a head in Philadelphia. Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier this week that Simmons will not show up to any team activities in an effort to force a trade and does not care one bit about the financial consequences that inevitably come with that course of action. After a summer of trying, Daryl Morey now has to trade the All-NBA defender unless the relationship can be fixed, which feels unlikely at this juncture.
Doc Rivers, who helped spark this wildfire by throwing Simmons under the bus after the team's Game 7 loss against the Hawks, went on First Take today to explain the situation from where he's sitting. Before we get into it, it's kind of crazy Rivers would even do this. It's an extremely high-profile trade demand with a lot of vitriol surrounding it and it's a rather significant risk to go on live television and riff about it, but here we are.
Rivers avoided disaster by more or less sticking to the company lines but was adamant that the Sixers want Simmons back this season. Which doesn't exactly mesh with the dozens of reports we've heard over the last four months about Morey's efforts to trade him away, but there wasn't another stance to take. He did confirm Simmons asked for a trade, but the most remarkable part of the interview had to be Rivers claiming his comments about Simmons' future in Philadelphia in the immediate aftermath of their Game 7 disappointment were misrepresented.
I mean, it's kind of hard to misrepresent this!
The only time this answer would be accepted at face value is if the player in question was an impending free agent. Simmons, however, has a four-year max extension kicking in this season. Doc knew that, as did the rest of us. How exactly did he think those comments were going to be taken? It's a resounding vote of no confidence, and it is no misrepresentation to believe that.
It is a painfully obvious backpedal to change his answer on ESPN to the same exact question he was asked in June. Rivers is better off owning that and chalking it up to the pain of a playoff loss than trying to play the "misinterpreted" card. It sure seems to suggest that Philly realizes they're in some trouble here. Morey has spent all summer trying to get a king's ransom for Simmons and is never going to get it now that Simmons has made it openly known he wants out. Rivers is clearly doing damage control and if that's obvious to us you can bet your bottom dollar it's obvious to Simmons.
The situation is snowballing in Philly with no clear solution.