Doc Rivers, Sixers react to Ben Simmons returning to practice with the team
Sunday was the day for Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers. The team returned to practice after wrapping the preseason on Friday night in Detroit and they now turn their attention to the real games counting.
The Sixers welcomed back Simmons as a full participant in practice on Sunday after he cleared the COVID protocol in the NBA and he was able to rejoin the team on a full basis. This is the first time he has been around the team since he ended his holdout and the team was happy to have him back.
“He was just one of the players,” said coach Doc Rivers. “It was good overall. He was in and out. It was not a great practice, not because of Ben, but because you take a day off, three days before the first game, guys, unfortunately, know math, but overall it was a good day.”
Logically, one can think that Simmons might have had to address the team after all of the drama that has transpired recently, but Rivers said there was no need for all of that. In fact, they made it almost like a joke.
“We just introduce like we always do when a new guy comes back or an old guy comes back,” said Rivers. “We jokingly did it with Ben, we did it with Tobias (Harris) as well because he’s been on vacation, and Matisse as well. It went good.
As I’ve told you before with players, they welcome guys back.”
On the flip side of that, these guys are all adults and professional athletes. At this point, it is all about getting to work and focusing on the one goal that they have and that is what Harris is focusing on when it comes to the Simmons situation.
“Honestly, for us, it’s look we got the opening to our season coming and truth be told, that’s honestly where our focus is,” he explained. “We’re grown men here. This is not middle school, 7th grade, 8th grade, ‘Oh, you did this to me’ no, it’s as soon as we step on that floor it’s basketball. Honestly, that’s the way it should be.”
Despite everything that has gone on with Simmons, the Sixers still have a pretty good shot at being a team that can contend for a championship. At this point, Harris just wants Simmons to focus on being a Sixer for as long as he is here.
“We’re here for one thing and that’s to be the best team that we can be and compete and get better as a group,” he finished. “All the other energy of this and that, the vibe was it what it was, right? Was it perfect? No, but we’re here to do a job and that’s to win basketball games. We put our big boy pants on, we get on the floor, and do what we do. That’s pretty much it.”
There is no question that the Sixers are a better team with Simmons on the floor, that is certain. So it is good to have him back out there.
“It was good to have him back,” said Furkan Korkmaz. “Personally, I missed him to be on the same floor with him again. Personally, I’m able to see him back here on the court and I hope we have more work to do.”
As far as Simmons being ready for opening night against the New Orleans Pelicans, that remains to be seen.
“I don’t know yet,” Rivers finished. “I’m gonna wait and see. Conditioning, just watching him, I thought he was in decent shape. He’s still not obviously game shape because you can do all the stuff, but overall, yeah…when he’s ready, he’ll play.”
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