Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers is trying to do more damage control than Olivia Pope.
ESPN reported earlier this week that Ben Simmons was looking to leave Philadelphia and wanted nothing to do with the organization. He intends to be a no-show for training camp next week.
Rivers appeared on ESPN’s First Take to address the Simmons situation.
“In sports... there’s been so many times this has happened that hasn’t been reported, and the guy comes back,” Rivers said. “So, listen, we’re going to go through it. We’re going to always do what’s best for the team, but I can tell you upfront we would love to get Ben back. And if we can, we’re going to try to do that. You know, Ben has a long contract. So it’s in our hands and we want him back.”
Rivers also went on to address the comments that he made following the 76ers’ loss in Game 7 to the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals this past spring. When Rivers was asked if Simmons can be a point guard for a championship team, Rivers responded by saying “I don’t know the answer to that right now.”
Today, Rivers said that his words were taken out of context and that he was trying to avoid the question. Rivers went on record today saying that he believes he can win a championship with Simmons.
Rivers said that the organization will continue to try to get Simmons on board with them. But after the debacle that took place in Game 7 and the statements made afterward, it’s going to be nearly impossible for Simmons, the City, and the organization to come to an accord.
Even if Simmons does decide to come back, the toxicity in that city toward Simmons won’t make it any easier for him to do his job. And as a guy who needs to make some major improvements, that level of pressure could be problematic for him.
The Simmons saga is far from over, but the road to reconciliation seems a lot less likely day by day.