The Ben Simmons saga took yet another wacky turn on Monday night as the three-time Philadelphia 76ers All-Star returned to the club days before the team was expecting him.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski had further details on the surprise move.
Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons has arrived in Philadelphia and took a Covid-19 test -- as required by NBA protocol, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 12, 2021
Sources: Sixers were unaware Simmons was flying into Philadelphia today. The organization was in constant contact with agent Rich Paul, but Simmons simply showed up at arena to take his Covid test prior to Sixers-Nets tip -- and that's when team officials knew he was in town. https://t.co/j3cGnC6mgG— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 12, 2021
In another tweet, Wojnarowski wrote that according to his sources, the Sixers are "hopeful to start moving toward the next steps of a return with Simmons" and that the organization would like to see Simmons "back on the court once he clears protocols, but that remains to be seen."
Ever since the top-seeded Sixers were eliminated by the fifth-seeded Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in June -- and Simmons' lack of production, specifically in the fourth quarter -- was put under a microscope, it's seemed like a foregone conclusion that the former Rookie of the Year would be traded. Prior to Monday, Simmons had been holding out of training camp and the preseason, but had already been fined approximately $360,000 for each of the two preseason games that he missed.
According to Wojnarowski, the Sixers were nearing the tip-off of their eventual 115-104 preseason win over the Brooklyn Nets on Monday when Simmons arrived from Los Angeles to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia to take the COVID-19 test.
"Simmons is expected to meet with the organization's leadership starting Tuesday at the team's practice facility, sources said," Wojnarowski wrote. "That will be telltale for the organization to begin to discover whether there's an opening to convince Simmons that a reconciliation is possible -- or whether Simmons' return is simply what's needed to get the kind of trade that the Sixers want to stay contenders around All-NBA center Joel Embiid."
Simmons has four years and $147 million remaining on his contract.