The Philadelphia 76ers and Ben Simmons appear to be heading toward a reconciliation. Will Simmons also get past his differences with Joel Embiid after alleging he didn’t fit with the star big man? Embiid doesn’t think that will be an issue.
It remains to be seen how teammates will respond to Simmons’ potential return after he spent the entirety of the offseason demanding a trade and decrying the franchise. However, Embiid believes everyone in the organization will handle the situation like a professional and even doubled down on his assertion that the Sixers need the polarizing point guard.
Ben Simmons’ camp previously suggested he cannot play alongside Joel Embiid
Practically everyone in the Sixers organization has had to address the notion of “fit” between Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid in the past few years, or so it seems. Simmons himself appeared to put an end to that burning question this offseason.
The 25-year-old’s camp let loose the apparent knowledge that Simmons no longer felt he could play with Embiid, saying the partnership had “run its course.” Whether the leak served as a point of reinforcement regarding Simmons’ trade demands is unclear. In any case, it got the attention of Philly’s star center.
Initially, Embiid didn’t care to dive too much into the details when asked about his disgruntled teammate during the team’s Media Day. But he would eventually take his subtle shots at Simmons, stating everyone involved had to “grow up” while also asserting most of Philly’s offseason moves in recent seasons have reflected the idea of catering to Simmons’ strengths.
The back-and-forth between the two 76ers stars might otherwise be a source of tension as Ben Simmons prepares to rejoin the fold. However, Embiid is convinced that the desire to win will eventually take precedence over individual grudges.
Embiid does not feel Simmons’ return will be “awkward” and expects him to “buy in”
Despite past criticisms of his point guard, Joel Embiid has also maintained his belief that the Sixers are better off with Ben Simmons on the floor. That’s a point he reiterated this week with knowledge of Simmons’ impending return spreading among the players.
Embiid reiterated that it was “unfortunate” how Simmons shut his teammates out amid the ongoing trade saga. But he does not feel (h/t Philly Voice) there will be a sense of awkwardness with the three-time All-Star once he is officially back.
Embiid reminded fans that this is essentially the same team that earned the top seed in the Eastern Conference. He expressed faith in “The Process,” so to speak, as long as Simmons elects to “buy in” and wants to be a part of winning.
The 76ers’ franchise centerpiece is intent on making sure things go smoothly. Head coach Doc Rivers said all offseason that the team wanted Simmons back. But the question is: does Simmons really want to be with the organization, or is he doing this to avoid continued financial penalties?
The drama might not be over
Although the attention should (finally) shift to basketball when it comes to Ben Simmons and the 76ers, it’s viable to imagine business and hoops becoming conflated.
The Sixers could still scour the NBA for trade avenues and might just as soon be hoping the Portland Trail Blazers implode so they have a chance at Damian Lillard. Meanwhile, Simmons’ return to Philly could stem from a desire to avoid consistent fines on behalf of the team.
Thus, while Joel Embiid remains insistent that the Sixers are a championship contender when Simmons and the rest of the roster are on the same page, there is no telling whether that is even feasible.
In other words, things very well could turn awkward for Embiid, Simmons, and the entire 76ers organization.