So much for damage control. After a tumultuous offseason, Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers is supposed to be trying to salvage his relationship with point guard Ben Simmons. Rivers decided to do that by comparing the situation to “talking to people who still believe Trump won the election.”
Rivers made those comments during an appearance on MSNBC on Friday. The interview mostly focused on Rivers’ new podcast, but he was asked about Simmons toward the end of the conversation.
Rivers was asked whether he’s talked to Simmons and whether he would convince Simmons to remain in Philadelphia.
Here’s what Rivers had to say:
There’s a lot to unpack in that quote. Rivers doesn’t name anyone in his examples. It’s possible he’s talking about Simmons. It’s also possible he’s talking about Simmons’ agent Rich Paul.
Either way … it’s not the most encouraging quote from Simmons’ current head coach. Rivers makes it clear that either Simmons or someone on Simmons’ management team is stubbornly holding on to something that isn’t true.
Ben Simmons wants to leave 76ers
That’s probably not the best way to extend an olive branch to Simmons, though Rivers may not care. Simmons reported requested a trade from the club in the offseason, and is not expected to attend training camp when it opens in late September.
Tensions have run high since the 76ers’ loss to the Atlanta Hawks in last season’s playoffs. Following the series, Simmons’ play was seemingly ripped by both Rivers and center Joel Embiid.
All parties had the entire offseason to work things out and failed. With training camp so close, a trade might be the best thing for Simmons and the 76ers. It’s possible Rivers realizes that, which is why he’s willing to be so blunt about the situation.