Loss of salary the main reason Ben Simmons returned to 76ers?
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Simmons stunned a lot of people this week when he decided to return to the Philadelphia 76ers.

On Monday, seemingly without warning, he showed up at the Sixers’ facility for a COVID-19 test. In doing so, he confirmed that he would be rejoining the team ahead of the start of the regular season.

This is obviously a sharp reversal for Simmons. For months, both he and his representation have been steadfast in their desire to get traded. And throughout that entire period of time the message was: we will never return to Philly and we’re ready for this process to get ugly.

So what changed?

“Why return now?” wrote ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski. “Simmons is described as wanting to prove a point, and knowing he had done so with something that almost never happens in the NBA: sitting out training camp, costing himself nearly $1 million in lost salary and fines, and delivering an unmistakable message that he wanted a trade out of Philadelphia.

“The Sixers scoured the league but never came close to finding a deal that returned them the kind of elite player they’d want in exchange for Simmons, sources said. The trade market can shift quickly once the regular season gets underway — and more players become eligible to be moved on Dec. 15 — but the Sixers have no traction on a trade now, sources said.”

Clearly, despite his claims to the contrary, Simmons was not prepared to withstand the pressure Philly put on him financially.

Last week’s desperate maneuver by Simmons, in retrospect, was a sign of what was to come.

So where does everyone involved go from here? Joel Embiid has already offered his take on Simmons’ surprising return. From there, the next step will be to reintegrate him into the team and move forward.

Obviously a trade is still everyone’s preferred path, but at the moment, it doesn’t look like one is coming any time soon.

This article first appeared on Game 7 and was syndicated with permission.

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