76ers coach Doc Rivers intends to convince Ben Simmons to stay
Amid intense speculation, Rivers is calmly confident that his can be champions with Simmons on the roster.
If there is one story that has dominated the NBA off season it's been that of Ben Simmons' feud with the Philadelphia 76ers. Today there has been yet another twist in the tale
76ers coach Doc Rivers wants Ben Simmons to stay
It was just days ago that NBA fans learned that Ben Simmons had refused to report for preseason training camp with the Philadelphia 76ers. The Australian star guard made it clear that not only was he unwilling to train, but he had no intention of playing for the franchise again. The rumors as to where he would play next ran wild. Yet despite the intense chatter, there has been no definitive movement on the part of the player or any other team. In addition it would appear that Philadelphia have no intention of letting Simmons go easily.
"Well, I hope we can change that thought," said head coach Doc to ESPN on Wednesday, "That's part of our job."
How did Ben Simmons fall out of favor?
The tension between the 76ers and Simmons seemed to take off during last season's Eastern Conference semifinal Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Simmons who appeared to be shot shy during the the latter stages of the series, infamously opted out of a free dunk in favor of a pass. This was simply the icing on the cake in a collection of performances that begged questions of the player.
"The greatest thing in sports is, you know it's fair, you fail at times and then you get back on the horse and try," Rivers stated. "You would be amazed if I told you how many times through a summer when you don't win, which is 29 teams, how often you have to go through something similar to this. Because losing's hard. People internalize it, and you have to deal with it. So we're going to deal with this."
Coach Rivers clarifies his stance on Ben Simmons
After crashing out of the playoffs it was head coach Rivers himself who took center stage as his comments on Simmons went viral. As understood by many, Rivers allegedly stated that he didn't think the 76ers could win a title with Ben Simmons playing at point guard.
"That's not what I said, actually," Rivers interjected Wednesday when asked about the comment. "This is when narratives ... and this is what makes our jobs hard. I actually said when the guy asked, guys, I'm not answering that stuff right now. I don't even know how to answer that. So what I was talking about was not answering the question. It had nothing to do with Ben."
For more from the NBA
"But it's amazing how it gets started and just takes a life of its own," Rivers said when questioned about his previous statements.
Asked whether or not Simmons could in fact be trusted at point guard in a championship team and Rivers was clear. "Yeah, all day. All day. He just does so many things, man." Rivers went on to explain that scoring isn't the only thing that wins games. "The Ben Wallaces of the world. It was great to see him go into the Hall of Fame. And the Dennis Rodmans of the world...help teams win titles and have Hall of Fame careers without being great scorers," Rivers stated. "I do think Ben can score way more than he has scored, but that's not what makes him great. What makes him great is all the other things he does."
Opinions aside, it's Ben Simmons
A three-time All-Star and two time member of the NBA's all-defensive team, Simmons is no novice. While many will point to the fact that he scored only five points in that notorious Game 7 loss to the Hawks, they would be harsh to ignore the fact that he added eight rebounds and 13 assists. Additionally he held Atlanta's own star guard Trae Young to 5-of-23 shooting.
"We forget how he gets guys open shots, how he puts pressure on defenses with his athletic speed," Rivers said. "Yeah, there's things he needs to work on and we can work on, but we can absolutely win with him."
Rivers for all his optimism faces an uphill battle and he knows it. Asked whether he has had contact with Simmons he was honest. "Not much, but we've had some," he said. "And I get his feelings. I understand where he's at right now, but we're going to keep trying to work on it to get him in the right place."