Even with James Harden set to make his debut and a new era about to begin with the Sixers, there is plenty of pent-up frustration in Philadelphia with Simmons and his decision to sit out this season until traded.
Some in Philly think Simmons owes the franchise an apology, or owed his now-former teammates one. Curry pushed back on that, speaking to Nick Friedell of ESPN.
“Business is business,” Curry told ESPN after Thursday’s shootaround. “I said from day [one], even when he was out early in the season, people were asking me if I feel like, if Ben comes back, should he apologize to us or whatever? I understand the business; he doesn’t need to apologize to anybody. When he’s on the court, I know he’s going to do his job and he’s going to do what he does. So I understand the business. He was doing what he felt was best for himself business-wise and personal-wise.
“And the team’s going to do the same thing as far as making trades or whatever, so I understand it, I’ve been around it; I don’t take anything personal. When we’re on the court, we’re teammates. Everything’s fine. And we depend on each other to do good things. There’s been nothing negative he’s done to me personally, so I’m fine.”
While Harden is debuting, Simmons is still reportedly weeks away from playing his first game for Brooklyn. The team wants him to go through a series of hard workouts to show his conditioning level is high enough, and he has not started that process.
After falling to Brooklyn on Thursday, the Nets sit as the No. 8 seed in the East, 3.5 games back of the Celtics at No. 6, and avoiding the play-in. While it’s possible for Brooklyn to make up that ground, without Kevin Durant (still recovering from a sprained knee) and Simmons, and only a part-time Kyrie Irving (for now), it is doubtful the Nets make up that ground.
Philadelphia sits far more comfortably as the No. 3 seed thanks to Joel Embiid playing at an MVP level, but for them to truly contend in the East it will take Harden and Embiid to click quickly, and for the 76ers to find a defense that works with Harden on the court.