The newest chapter of the Ben Simmons saga began on Sunday afternoon for the Philadelphia Sixers, coach Doc Rivers, Tobias Harris, and the rest of the roster. After clearing protocol on Friday, the 25-year-old had his first practice with the team since his sudden end to his holdout last week.
All the talk following practice revolved around the return of the disgruntled All-Star. While Simmons himself did not speak, players and coaches discussed the former number one pick's first day of practice alongside his teammates.
First up was head coach Doc Rivers. He said nothing special was done for or by Simmons before practice and the Sixers welcomed him similar to how they would any player who has missed time.
Rivers liked where he was at from a conditional standpoint but still does not have an answer on if Simmons will be on the floor of the season opener against New Orleans on Wednesday.
“I don't know yet, I'm going to wait and see. Conditioning, I would say just watching him, he was in decent shape. Still not obviously game shape,” he said.
Tobias Harris echoed Rivers' comments on Simmons' conditioning during his post-practice availability. He also mentioned that getting him back was nice, and the focus for the Sixers is all on getting him integrated with what they've been building on since training camp.
“It was cool. For us, it is just continue on integrating into what we've been doing, be supportive and be there, and keep it pushing that's it,” Harris said Sunday at the end of a very unusual Sixers preseason.
Furkan Korkmaz was the final Sixers player to speak following Sunday's practice. Throughout this saga, he has been very adamant about wanting Simmons to re-join the team and was more than pleased that he is back on the floor.
“It was good to have him back. Personally, I missed him. To be on the same floor with him again, personally, I'm happy to see him back here on the court,” said Korkmaz.
Based on what was said by everyone, it doesn't appear there is any awkward tension between Simmons and the rest of the Sixers. They all understand the nature of the business and are keeping the focus where it should be, on the basketball court. There is no telling if things could explode later down the road, but day one looks to have gone smoothly.
The Sixers should applaud themselves for their composure throughout this off-the-court standoff. A situation like this might have imploded many other teams, but they continue to conduct themselves like professionals.
Now that the rest of the Sixers have done their part, how Ben Simmons conducts himself moving forward will be a key storyline to keep an eye on. Even though he ended his holdout, there have been no reports stating he no longer wants a change of scenery.
Looking back over the past month, nobody expected Ben Simmons to put on a Sixers jersey again. Now, in a sudden turn of events, Doc Rivers might have both his All-Stars on the floor to kick off his second season in Philadelphia.