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Simmons appears set to rejoin 76ers after surprise return to Philadelphia

By Marc Lancaster

New York, October 12: Ben Simmons returned to Philadelphia on Monday (October 11) and appears set to rejoin the 76ers.

The embattled All-Star showed up at Wells Fargo Center shortly before tip-off of a preseason game between the 76ers and Brooklyn Nets, ESPN reported, adding that team officials were not aware he was en route.

The report said Simmons took a COVID-19 test in the arena, the first step in following NBA protocols that will allow him to rejoin the team after missing all of training camp and the preseason.

Earlier Monday, ESPN and The Athletic said Simmons' representatives had been engaged in talks with 76ers management for the past few days and made progress in ending the Australian's holdout.

Simmons demanded a trade away from Philadelphia following a disappointing Eastern Conference semi-finals loss to the Atlanta Hawks and had not spoken directly to team officials since late August.

Head coach Doc Rivers spoke to reporters before Monday's game and said the team has always wanted Simmons to return.

"Listen, we've said from day one what we wanted. We'd love to get him back," Rivers said. "Other than that, honestly, there's nothing to report. Our position hasn't changed at all."

Not long after that, Simons arrived at the arena.

His return not necessarily mean he will be with the team for the long haul, but getting the guard back on the court could make it easier for Philadelphia to trade him.

Simmons is due to be paid $33million this season and will have three years and $114m remaining on his deal after that.

Those numbers combined with Simmons' abysmal showing in last season's playoffs have left Philadelphia with minimal leverage in the trade market.

Across Games 5, 6 and 7 against the Hawks, Simmons averaged just 6.3 points from 4.7 field goal attempts.

The 25-year-old attempted only one shot in the fourth quarter of the final six games of the series against the Hawks, while he passed up a dunk that would have tied the game in the fourth quarter of Game 7.

His 34.2 per cent free-throw shooting throughout the playoffs was by far the worst rate of any player with 10 attempts or more, while he took just one shot in clutch situations.

In four seasons with the Sixers, Simmons has averaged 15.9 points per game in the regular season, yet he has attempted only 34 shots from three-point range and made just 59.7 per cent from the foul line.

Depending on how quickly details are finalised and he is cleared to play, the earliest Simmons could feature in a game would be Friday's preseason finale against the Detroit Pistons.

The 76ers open the regular season on October 20 against the New Orleans Pelicans.

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Read more about: nba philadelphia 76ers basketball
Story first published: Tuesday, October 12, 2021, 9:20 [IST]
Other articles published on Oct 12, 2021