Ben Simmons Raised Troubling Red Flags After Using a Shady Massage Excuse to Nearly Miss Game 7 Against the Hawks

The last several months have featured lingering doubt concerning Ben Simmons‘ future with the Philadelphia 76ers. Simmons internally pushed for a trade to receive a fresh start elsewhere, but the 76ers have yet to oblige. Another concerning wrinkle has emerged, suggesting the All-Star point guard may have attempted to Game 7 against the Atlanta Hawks.

Ben Simmons’ saga with the 76ers continues

Since the 76ers’ playoff exit, Simmons sits on shaky ground with the 76ers due to doubt concerning his long-term future.

Philadelphia initially attempted to trade the three-time All-Star over the offseason to no avail due to the high asking price. Simmons ramped up the drama by pulling away from the franchise after informing them that he wanted a trade.

The star point guard stayed away from the team throughout most of training camp, only reporting back earlier this week. His return came as a surprise, given his agent Rich Paul indicated he had no desire to play with Philadelphia.

Despite reporting to the team, his long-term future remains uncertain. The optics took another concerning turn after a recent report detailed he may have attempted to skip out on Game 7 against the Hawks.

Ben Simmons raised troubling red flags after using a shady massage excuse to nearly miss Game 7 against the Hawks

After Simmons‘ porous play in the playoffs, he became engulfed in uncertainty, contributing to the 76ers’ second-round playoff exit in seven games to the Atlanta Hawks.

Much of which focused on the 25-year-old’s lackluster offensive production, as he struggled to contribute in the fourth quarter of the series effectively. He shrunk in the fourth quarter, scoring only 12 points on three total shot attempts over the seven games.

However, before the 76ers suffered the disappointing Game 7 loss on their home floor, Simmons nearly didn’t play in the contest due to potential COVID-19 exposure.

According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, less than 10 hours before Philadelphia played Atlanta, the star point guard’s status was in jeopardy. He reportedly told the organization he’d been around a team masseuse, who had conducted an inconclusive COVID-19 test.

Several 76ers players were asked if they had seen the same masseuse, but only Simmons confirmed he did. However, doubt arose as several within the organization questioned if the star point guard saw the masseuse, suggesting that he may have been using it to get out of playing Game 7.

Simmons couldn’t escape from his playoff struggles that cropped up again in the contest, notably featuring him passing up an open dunk in the fourth quarter. He couldn’t escape the mental hurdle that plagued him throughout the series. 

The doubt from the organization only speaks to the lack of trust the team had in Simmons. He showed signs that he was mentally shot from his offensive struggles, making an attempt to bow out of playing a feasible scenario.

Nonetheless, it’s another troubling red flag that the 76ers already possessed against Simmons.   

Philadelphia is moving toward an inevitable fate

Simmons has returned, but it isn’t due to his desire to secure his long-term future.

The 25-year-old wants a trade, and playing is the only way to improve his stock around the league. Meanwhile, the 76ers can only benefit from having Simmons back in the fold to move the matter forward.

All that suggests a change of scenery may be best for both sides. Simmons will get a fresh start elsewhere, while the 76ers can rebuild the team around Joel Embiid.

It remains a sticky matter, but the two sides are moving toward an inevitable fate.

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