Ben Simmons is back in Philadelphia – at least physically.
The Sixers star guard joined the team for his second practice on Monday since ending his holdout last week, where he appeared unenthused and disengaged.
Multiple reporters shared videos that showed a stone-faced Simmons doing defensive drills in team sweats.
After practice, Simmons stood on the outskirts of a team huddle and dribbled a basketball instead of participating in a team chant. He then exited the court while his teammates mingled together.
When asked if the vibe was awkward at practice, Sixers forward Tobias Harris reportedly smiled and said, “No, it was perfectly fine.”
“We’re grown men here,” Harris continued. “This is not middle school, seventh grade, eighth grade, ‘Oh you did this to me, you did this!’ Nah, as soon as we step on that floor, it’s just basketball and honestly that’s the way it should be.
“We’re here for one thing, and that’s to be the best team we can be and compete, get better as a group. So all the energy and this or that, the vibe was what it was. Was it perfect? No. But we’re here to do a job, and that’s to win basketball games. So, we put our big boy pants on and we get on the floor and do what we do.”
Last week, Sixers franchise face Joel Embiid said he hasn’t spoken to Simmons since the last season ended.
“Obviously, I tried, but it wasn’t successful as a lot of my teammates have. It’s unfortunate the whole situation happened, but we’re a better team with him on the floor. I think there are going to be some adjustments, but it doesn’t need to be awkward.
“We are professionals, we want to win. I want to win. He gives me the best chance to win, so that’s what I’m going to go with.”
Simmons reportedly kept his practice jersey in his pocket during portions of Monday’s session, where he did not speak with media.
Simmons missed all of preseason before he returned to Philadelphia last week for the start of the 2021-22 season.
Following his first practice with the team on Sunday, head coach Doc Rivers said it was “good overall” and that Simmons “was in and out.”
Simmons spent the summer away from the Sixers and kept a lower profile after a historically poor playoff performance, where he shot 34.2 percent from the free-throw line – the worst mark in playoff history for a player with 70 attempts. He also didn’t take a shot in the fourth quarter in five of the seven games against the Hawks.
Upon his return to the team last week, following COVID protocol, Rivers said Simmons appeared to be “in decent shape,” but “still not obviously game shape.”
The 76ers open their regular season on Wednesday against the Pelicans. Rivers said he was unsure if Simmons will play in the season opener.