Ben Simmons is playing with fire and it’s the Sixers who will feel the burn

Ben Simmons
PHILADELPHIA, PA – MAY 05: Philadelphia 76ers Guard Ben Simmons (25) looks toward the net during warmups before the Eastern Conference Semifinal Game between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers on May 05, 2018 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

The Ben Simmons saga has been exhausting. After the heartbreaking playoff loss to Atlanta, I don’t think anybody foresaw just how chaotic the oncoming offseason would be. But here we stand, with a little over a week until the regular season kicks off and the drama is anywhere but settled. At some point, there has to be a climax, but at what cost?

Simmons did the most Ben Simmons thing possible last week. He showed up to the Wells Fargo Center unannounced to go through his medical. His teammates didn’t know. The fans didn’t know. The coaches and GM didn’t know. The Rich Paul conducted holdout appears to be over, but the fallout will be felt all season long unless something changes soon.

We still haven’t heard from Ben and the longer he leaves it, the more pressure is going to build both internally and externally. We can all pretend that getting Simmons on the court is going to be a priority and so long as he plays to his expected level that all will be rosy and back to normal, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

The press are going to push for answers, as they should. The fans are going to boo, as they have every right to. His teammates have to go through plenty of awkward conversations following the incident where he declined to meet with them. These are bound to lead to trust issues that bleed outside of the locker room.

On that same note, it’s really unfair to every other player for Simmons to just come in and pick up where he left off, pushing those players who have shown up to work and pushed hard to earn what Ben has been given, to the back of the pecking order. Frustration would be understandable, especially from younger players who had maybe been dangled the idea of becoming a star tight point guard only for it to be ripped away when Ben drags himself back to the complex.

A player like Tyrese Maxey, who has an incredibly high ceiling, is essentially waiting for the fate of his sophomore year to be confirmed while Simmons hides in the shadows and tries to sneak in as if nothing has happened.

The longer that Simmons stays silent, the more tension build. Is Simmons really going to play his best basketball? Is his headspace at a point where he isn’t going to hurt the team with lazy errors? Will an opposing team playing ‘whack-a-ben’ cause a downward spiral in his individual performance?

At this point, it’s bigger than just Ben Simmons. It’s the entire Sixers organization. The strain of dealing with months of drama is bound to take its toll on the players in one way or another and unless Simmons is going to come in, hold his hands up, and become accountable for his self-cantered behavior, then there are going to be issues at every corner. Every loss will bring pressure, every mistake will be amplified, every bump in the road will feel like a Mountain.

I don’t know how the Ben Simmons saga is going to end, but it cannot do so in Philadelphia.

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire