Ben Simmons doesn’t want to play — or even practice — with the Philadelphia 76ers anymore. So coach Doc Rivers kicked out the All-Star guard and suspended him for the season opener.
Joel Embiid’s take on the whole fiasco? Good riddance. Last season’s NBA MVP runner-up put Simmons on blast: “At this point, I don’t care about that man. He does whatever he wants.”
Simmons refused to play as a full participant at Tuesday’s practice, a day after he lingered outside a team huddle and mostly stayed alone in a corner without talking to teammates.
Embiid dropped multiple references Tuesday to not working as babysitter anymore for the 25-year-old Australian guard, who still has four years and $147 million left on his max contract.
“I’m not here to babysit,” Embiid said. “I’d be willing to babysit if someone wants to listen, but that’s not my job. That’s out of my control.”
Simmons will not play Wednesday in New Orleans and it seems inconceivable he will suit up for Friday’s home opener in front of 20,000 furious fans ready to boo him out of the Wells Fargo Center.
He has not talked publicly since his offseason trade request — his early exit from practice meant he skipped Tuesday’s scheduled media availability — and there’s no telling if he’ll return to the Sixers.
“As a team, we’re going to be fine,” Embiid said.
Rivers remained diplomatic and said Simmons would be welcome to return to practice.
“I just thought he was a distraction today,” Rivers said. “I didn’t think he wanted to do what everybody else was doing. It was early. It wasn’t a big deal. I just told him he should leave. We went on with practice.”
Sixers president Daryl Morey and general manger Elton Brand, who was at Tuesday’s practice, have yet to receive a trade offer worthy of the franchise dealing their three-time All-Star. Morey said at the start of training camp he wouldn’t be forced into making a trade just for the sake of appeasing Simmons.
Wizards sign Gafford for $40.2 million
The Washington Wizards signed center Daniel Gafford to a $40.2 million, three-year contract extension.
The deal runs through the 2025-26 season.
Washington acquired Gafford in a trade in March. He played 23 regular-season games for the Wizards, averaging 10.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks and shooting 68 percent from the field.
In five playoff games, he averaged 11.8 points and shot 22 of 26 from the field.
Gafford turned 23 this month. The Chicago Bulls drafted him in the second round out of Arkansas in 2019.