Joel Embiid has a job, and chaperoning Ben Simmons isn’t part of it.
“At the end of the day, our job is not to babysit somebody,” the 76ers star center said Tuesday, shortly after an embattled Simmons was kicked out of practice. “We don’t get paid to come out here to babysit somebody and that’s not our job, and I’m sure my teammates feel that way.”
Simmons, 25, was booted from practice for reportedly refusing to participate in team drills, resulting in a one-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team for Wednesday’s season-opener in New Orleans.
“At this point, I don’t care about that man, honestly,” Embiid said. “He does what he wants.”
Simmons’ return to the team from his offseason holdout has not gone smoothly. The Australian guard requested a trade from the team amid a tumultuous summer and has been fined for missing preseason games, workouts and meetings.
The 76ers are open to trading the disgruntled star, a former No. 1-overall pick, though Wednesday’s incident – coupled with his poor shooting performance in the 2020 Eastern Conference semifinals – likely haven’t made that any easier.
“I just thought he was a distraction today,” 76ers coach Doc 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.”
Simmons has been reluctant to reassimilate with Embiid and his Philadelphia teammates. In practices on Sunday and Monday, he appeared disengaged during team drills.
Rivers said he had a “good conversation” with Simmons Tuesday, but the details will remain between the coach and player.
“My job as a coach is to keep trying to get guys to buy in and be in and unfortunately this situation is tough for me, but that’s my job and I’m not going to stop [doing] my job,” Rivers said. “Right now, I’m telling you our team is focused… Our players will welcome anyone back that wants to be in and I also know that players won’t welcome back in someone who doesn’t want to be here.”
Simmons has four years and $147 million left on the max contract he signed in 2019.