This offseason has felt beyond eventful for the Sixers despite pretty much nothing happening. Following the disappointing playoff exit in which they were knocked out of the second round by the Hawks, the Sixers made just minor changes to the roster ahead of the new season. With training camp set to begin tomorrow, Doc Rivers, Daryl Morey, and each Sixers player met with the media to discuss the looming Ben Simmons issue and much more:
The Sixers Want Ben Simmons Back:
The elephant in the room was the one player on the Sixers roster who was not there today, and Ben Simmons was the hot topic of conversation. The theme among each member of the organization was that there is still hope that Simmons will return to the team.
Doc Rivers began the press conference attempting to take back his comments following the game seven loss. Doc talked about how important intent is, and argued that by saying “I don’t know,” to questions about Simmons he was simply trying to steer the conversation away from Ben and it is no indication of his confidence in him. Rivers said he addressed the comments with Simmons the following day and went back to the familiar sentiment regarding the impressive things the 6’10 guard can do on the court.
Daryl Morey confirmed that Simmons’ camp gave an official trade request when they met in Chicago shortly after the season. The Sixers GM also appeared optimistic on the chances of Simmons eventually joining the rest of the team and put it, “Ben’s a great player, and you know, we expect him back. We expect him to be a 76er.” Morey also mentioned that he had last talked to Simmons six or seven weeks ago, and has only been communicating with his representation since this point.
Multiple players acknowledged that they had discussed the situation as a team and hope Simmons makes the decision to rejoin them. The main message expressed was that the players have no stake in the business aspect and they simply want to take the court with their teammate.
Several players confirmed that there was an attempt to go visit Ben in California which was declined by the all-star. Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid went into the most depth on the situation and Tobias mentioned that he believed the situation has exploded due to miscommunication that could have been avoided.
It was tough not to feel bad for Joel Embiid when he addressed the situation. Last season’s MVP candidate was that he was disappointed with the situation as a whole and how this negatively affects their chances of winning. Despite the turmoil, Embiid maintained the belief that he could win a championship with Simmons and put it, “He knows it too. He knows we can win together.”
Doc Rivers Loves Andre Drummond
Despite beginning the offseason talking about how effective a stretch big man would be in the second unit, the Sixers elected to sign Andre Drummond to be the backup center. Rivers initially brought up Drummond when talking about the offseason moves and then circled back to the big man when asked about Georges Niang by saying, “I don’t why, but I think Drummond is gonna be big for us.”
When Drummond addressed the media himself, he gave a peak ahead into his mindset for the upcoming season. The 28-year-old pointed out how he has plenty left in the tank and mentioned that it was the conversation with Rivers that ultimately led to him coming to Philly. When walking about his role, Drummond put it, “I’m here to help out in whatever way possible, whether its to come off the bench, whether its to be a great lockerrom guy, whether its to boost morale of everybody’s energy. I don’t care what it may be.”
If Drummond is able to remain satisfied in a limited role he could be extremely effective this season. The Sixers will be better suited for him to step in during games that Joel Embiid is unable to suit up as there is a lot more to Drummond’s game than was seen with Dwight Howard.
Tyrese Maxey Time?
After being asked if he knows who will start in place of Simmons, Rivers playfully teased that it would be Tyrese Maxey. Rivers said that he knew who it would be but was not willing to share and went on to say, “I think you’ll figure it out. I don’t even think that’s that hard on that one.” While it is clear Rivers hopes to get Simmons back, he mentioned that he was more concerned with the lack of depth that is brought on by him being absent, and not as concerned about a drop-off in the starting lineup.
When addressing Maxey specifically, Rivers says he believes that the second-year guard is going to have a major role regardless of if Simmons is there or not. Rivers gave a ton of credit to Maxey’s work ethic and said of the second-year guard:
“It’s rare that you see a guy with the talent that he just has, raw talent, and the work that he puts in. It’s rare that that doesn’t turn into success. High character… he just has all the ingredients, in my opinion, to turn out to be a heck of a basketball player for a long time.”
The biggest takeaway from today should simply be that Sixers basketball is back. With the heartache of last season put behind us and so many question yet to be answered, the search to get closer to their championship aspirations is back on. Questions surrounding Ben Simmons will continue to drag on, but the Sixers are moving forward whether the all-star is there or not.
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