The tension between Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers appeared to reach a point of no return immediately after the team was eliminated from the playoffs. Doc Rivers contributed to that, and it sounds like Simmons may have expected the coach to face internal consequences.
After the Sixers lost Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series with the Atlanta Hawks, Rivers was given a chance to throw his support behind Simmons. He was asked if he believes Simmons can be the point guard on a championship team, to which Rivers replied, “I don’t even know the answer to that right now.”
That did not sit well with Simmons. Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer said during an appearance on 97.5 The Fanatic this week that Simmons is not playing nice with the Sixers in part because of Rivers’ remarks.
“There are teams that are interested in Ben Simmons, they just don’t want to pay the steep price,” Pompey said, via Justin Grasso of FanNation. “Ben Simmons knows that, so they are saying why should we help the 76ers out when they feel like when Doc Rivers said what he said, nobody apologized, and Doc was never reprimanded.”
You could easily make the argument that the 76ers have mishandled the situation. They almost certainly decided they wanted to move on from Simmons when he was essentially unplayable in the postseason. But they could have done a better job of hiding their frustration. Rivers also could have continued to talk up Simmons, even if he didn’t believe what he was saying.
It’s easy to see why Simmons felt abandoned. Rivers showed no faith in him publicly, and even Joel Embiid blatantly threw him under the bus. All of that played a role in Simmons’ diminished trade value.