Maybe the Ben Simmons saga isn't over after all with the Philadelphia 76ers. The three-time All-Star had recently ended his holdout, practiced with the team and was on track to play in the season opener Wednesday in New Orleans, but on Tuesday the Sixers suspended Simmons for that game due to conduct detrimental to the team. Because the Pelicans were going to be without superstar Zion Williamson, Philly had been a 4.5-point favorite but that spread is now dropping a bit with the Simmons news.
If you follow Simmons/76ers on social media at all, you probably saw that Simmons wasn't exactly fully engaged at practice Monday as he was running around in sweatpants with a cell phone in his pocket. Apparently on Tuesday, Coach Doc Rivers threw Simmons out of practice. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that "Simmons' reluctance to physically and mentally engage with the Sixers since his return has been a consistent theme." He didn't play at all in the preseason.
"I thought he was a distraction today," Rivers said of Simmons. "I didn't think he wanted to do what everyone else was doing." Rivers added he expected Simmons to practice Thursday (and presumably play Friday in the home opener vs. Brooklyn; those Philly fans are going to be brutal!).
Simmons was expected to speak to the media for the first time Tuesday – not happening now -- since his team lost to the Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals when Simmons mentally imploded in Game 7.
Of course, it's no secret that Simmons wants a trade, and at the start of last season when James Harden acted disinterested with the Houston Rockets, it worked as Harden was dealt to Brooklyn. Simmons is no James Harden, though.
With Shake Milton also out Wednesday due to a right ankle sprain, Philly will be a bit thin on "point" guards if we consider Simmons a point guard. Tyrese Maxey likely will play a ton with Furkan Korkmaz and Isaiah Joe also able to handle the ball.
Williamson is coming off right foot surgery and will miss at least the first week of the season, probably longer. Wednesday will be the Pelicans head coaching debut of Willie Green.
Last year, the Sixers and Pelicans split, each winning at home. Simmons averaged 9.0 points 9.0 rebounds and 8.0 assists in the two. Zion put up 37 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists in the one game he played, which was the Pelicans' 101-94 victory. Philadelphia is 0-4-1 ATS in the past five meetings.
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