For the first time since he demanded a trade then held out of training camp to start the season, Ben Simmons practiced with 76ers on Sunday.
However, it’s unclear if he will suit up for Philadelphia when it opens the season Wednesday in New Orleans.
Coach Doc Rivers and the 76ers tried to play down the day as something normal. Here are some quotes from practice, via Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia.
“No. It was perfectly fine,” Tobias Harris said with a smile and a tone full of something besides sincerity. “Come on, man…
“We’re here for one thing, and that’s to be the best team we can be, and compete and get better as a group. All the other energy of this and that … the vibe was what it was. Was it perfect? No. But we’re here to do a job, and that’s to win basketball games. We put our big-boy pants on, and we get on the floor and do what we do. That’s pretty much it.”
“He looks good,” Korkmaz said. “He’s in shape. We know Ben, he takes care of his body a lot. He plays hard, he plays fast — we know that. But he looks good.”
“I don’t know yet,” Rivers said of whether Simmons would play Wednesday. “I’m going to wait and see. Conditioning, I would say just watching him, I thought he was in decent shape. Still not obviously game shape. … Right now, I’m just trying to get him back comfortable and integrated.”
It might be easier for conflict-averse Simmons to start on the road in New Orleans than at home in Philadelphia, where fans will unquestionably boo him loudly after this summer.
After the Pelicans game Wednesday, the 76ers come home on Friday to face the Nets (without their star Kyrie Irving), then the Sixers go back on the road for a couple of games against the Thunder and Knicks. If the Sixers decide to start him on the road, that is the spot.
Simmons is expected to address the media in the next couple of days. That could be interesting.