Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers (Getty Images/AFP)
LOS ANGELES – Ben Simmons has told the Philadelphia 76ers he is not ready to resume playing for the team, multiple US media reports said on Friday in the latest twist to the saga surrounding the Australian star.
Simmons, who was suspended for the Sixers’ opening game of the season on Wednesday after a reported bust-up with coach Doc Rivers, informed club officials on Friday he was not “mentally prepared” to play.
Responding to the reports Friday, team-mate Tobias Harris said Simmons would be welcomed back into the locker room when he was ready to return.
“We’ll respect his privacy and space during this time,” Harris wrote on Twitter. “When he’s ready, we will embrace our brother with love and handle our business on the court. That’s it, that’s all.”
Simmons’ career with the Sixers has been shrouded in intrigue since the end of last season after the 25-year-old — the No.1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft — informed the club he wanted to leave.
His future with the club came under scrutiny after the team lost a decisive Game 7 to Atlanta in last season’s playoffs, with Simmons’s offensive output shrivelling in the crucial final quarter.
That prompted Sixers coach Rivers to publicly question whether Simmons could be a considered championship-winning caliber point guard.
Tensions between Simmons and team-mate Joel Embiid also emerged, with Embiid accusing the Australian of “disrespecting” his team-mates.
Following Simmons suspension this week, Embiid gave his team-mate short shrift.
“At this point I don’t care about that man, honestly,” Embiid said of Simmons.
“He does whatever he wants. That’s not my job. I’m only focused on trying to make the team better, win some games, play hard every night, trying to lead the guys that we have here.
“I’m sure they feel the same way. Our chemistry has been excellent despite everything that’s been happening the last few months. So I don’t really care.”
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