The Ben Simmons-Philadelphia stoush is not showing any signs of abating with Sixers’ president of basketball operations Daryl Morey warning the dispute could become a long drawn-out affair.
All-Star point guard Simmons did not reportedly participate in a scheduled individual work-out at the Philadelphia 76ers’ practice facility on Thursday.
The Australian told officials he had tightness in his back after arriving at the team’s facility, according to ESPN. The team did not practise.
It is not immediately known if Simmons will suit up for the 76ers in their home-opener against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday.
ESPN also reported Simmons is expected to meet with team brass early Friday morning to discuss his playing status.
But Morey adopted a strong stance in a Philadelphia radio interview with 97.5 The Fanatic on Thursday afternoon.
“People should buckle in. This is gonna go a long time because my only job is to help give us the best chance to win the title,” Morey said.
“Ben Simmons is a difference-maker, so if we can get him back he will help us win the title.
“If we can trade Ben Simmons for a difference-maker, we will do it. I think that’s best for everyone in this situation.”
Simmons has been criticised since passing up a dunk in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Atlanta Hawks in last season’s playoffs.
He openly asked for a trade and left the organisation through training camp and the pre-season.
The Sixers are hoping Simmons will participate in the team shootaround later on Friday.
He served a one-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team in Philadelphia’s season-opening 117-97 victory over hosts the New Orleans Pelicans.
He received the ban for refusing to participate in a practice drill on Tuesday.
Without Simmons, Tyrese Maxey scored 20 points as the fill-in point guard.
“(The players) have been normal, the only abnormal part is when they have to talk to the media afterwards and they’re asked questions (about Simmons),” coach Doc Rivers said.
“It’s about playing basketball and growing together, and they’ve done a great job of that.”
All-Star centre Joel Embiid and reserve guard Furkan Korkmaz led Philadelphia with 22 points each.
“Our focus was always like zeroed into this game, but I think that just comes from a lot of guys having added opportunity here,” said Tobias Harris, who had 20 points and 12 rebounds.
“And really trying to figure out ways that they can maximise that type (of) opportunity.”