The Ben Simmons saga has been the dominant storyline in the NBA for months now, even with the new season tipping off this week.
This story had it all, up to and including yesterday’s development that saw Simmons announce a vague back injury.
Less than 24 hours later, we have another development, as the Sixers star told the team that while he wanted to play, he was not mentally prepared to do so.
Shams and Woj had dueling reports on the topic, so we’ll include both:
Simmons reported to shootaround today ahead of Nets game and was seen engaged around the team, sources said. The three-time All-Star has expressed he wants to play but isn't prepared mentally. https://t.co/DUuPfGch2s
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 22, 2021
Simmons has to be evaluated now and next steps will be based upon the determination of medical professionals, sources tell ESPN. https://t.co/OTZ9PQU9bN
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 22, 2021
Yesterday, the back issue felt like it might have been the latest in a long line of tactics from Simmons and his camp to find a way to sit out without losing further money to fines or suspensions. From our piece on the news:
Simmons clearly doesn’t want to play for the Sixers, and something like a back flareup is the sort of thing that a player who doesn’t want to play might point to. If anything, this should have been one of his first options, as it would have saved a lot of face while also preserving a lot more leverage as a tactic before you’ve publicly advertised that you don’t want to play at all. If anything, that they sent him right back onto the court is yet another example of how poorly-suited Simmons apparently is to this entire process.
Today’s development is certainly related to this entire process, of course. But it’s important to note that mental health is important! There’s absolutely a world where a player like Simmons might not feel prepared to compete at a high level or be reintegrated into the team. Taking him at his word here, there’s nothing wrong with working through the evaluation process and getting back on the court when he’s ready.
He’s probably not going to be afforded much sympathy, though, and there will certainly be people who doubt his sincerity given where this development has fallen in the news cycle.