Philadelphia 76ers All-Star guard Ben Simmons plans to meet with medical professionals for an evaluation after telling the team Friday that he wasn’t mentally ready to play to his expectations and needed time to step away, sources told ESPN.
Simmons met separately with coach Doc Rivers, medical staff and teammates Friday morning at the team’s facility in Camden, New Jersey, and started a process that is expected to continue to keep him from making his season debut, sources said.
After he told the team’s medical staff of his reasons for needing to seek help, the Sixers continued to offer Simmons whatever resources are necessary to assist him, sources said.
The Sixers have been fining Simmons for missing games, practices and meetings — nearing $2 million this season — but there is a provision in the collective bargaining agreement that protects players’ salary for failing to render services “if such failure has been caused by the player’s mental disability.”
Simmons, 25, requested a trade four months ago and has told the team that he has no interest in returning to play for the franchise again. The Sixers have been unable to find a trade that meets their threshold for a return package that includes a high-level All-Star player and have wanted Simmons on the floor to honor his contract. Simmons has four years and $147 million left on his five-year maximum deal.
Simmons left the team’s practice facility Thursday without participating in a scheduled individual workout. He did undergo a brief treatment on his back before the Sixers’ medical team cleared him for on-court participation.
In a Philadelphia radio interview with 97.5 The Fanatic on Thursday, 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey reiterated that the team wouldn’t be rushed into trading Simmons, saying “People should buckle in. This is going to take a long time.”
Simmons’ agent, Rich Paul, had told Sixers officials that Simmons wasn’t mentally prepared to play, sources said, and that was a message that Simmons relayed directly Friday morning ahead of Philadelphia’s game against the Brooklyn Nets (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Simmons was suspended for the Sixers’ victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday after coach Doc Rivers threw him out of practice Tuesday for failing to sub into a practice session. Simmons lost approximately $227,000 for Wednesday night’s suspension.
The Sixers had hoped to see Simmons work out Thursday and have him go through shootaround Friday, sources said. The 76ers did not practice Thursday, and Simmons has yet to fully engage in a team practice since reporting Oct. 11 after a two-week holdout.