76ers coach Doc Rivers was prepared to maneuver on from Ben Simmons lengthy earlier than Philadelphia traded him to the Nets in a bundle for All-Star guard James Harden.
“The guys were just over it,” Rivers told Sports Illustrated in regards to the Joel Embiid-led crew that skilled morale points main as much as the trade. “We were winning games, and, every town we went to, we were talking about Ben. I don’t know if we could have gotten through the second half of the season with that hanging over our heads. I was praying something happened.”
The Sixers made the transfer to amass Harden simply hours earlier than the trade deadline in February, in a bundle that included sharpshooter Seth Curry, huge man Andre Drummond and two first-round picks.
The blockbuster deal got here after Simmons requested a trade out of Philadelphia final summer time and distanced himself from the crew. At one level, he knowledgeable the Sixers that he was not mentally able to play and skipped coaching camp in September.
Simmons arrived on the Sixers’ facility the following month after getting hit with a variety of fines by the crew.
Just days earlier than the Sixers traded Simmons to the Nets, Yahoo Sports reported that Philadelphia had fined Simmons more than $19 million for lacking 50 regular-season video games — including that his whole fines may prime $30 million.
“He was losing a lot of money,” Embiid advised Sports Illustrated. “At some point I started to feel bad for him.”
Embiid, who’s at the moment within the MVP race amid a stellar season, mentioned he has not spoken to Simmons for the reason that trade — not to mention within the months main as much as the trade.
“We never saw him [around the Sixers facility],” mentioned Embiid, who is seemingly nonetheless not sure about what prompted the Sixers-Simmons cut up. “I don’t have any hard feelings. I don’t have any hate toward him. I wouldn’t mind being friends. That’s just me. I don’t care. Honestly. I respect the decision he made. I think it’s unfortunate what happened, but to me it’s whatever.”
Embiid, who’s averaging 29.9 factors, 11.4 rebounds, and 4.3 assists this season, mentioned he’s targeted on successful. The 46-29 Sixers entered Wednesday in fourth place within the East.
Simmons, in the meantime, has but to play this season. He is at the moment rehabbing a herniated disc in his again that he beforehand handled throughout his Sixers tenure.
The Nets entered Wednesday in eighth place within the East, a sport above the Hornets, which would qualify Brooklyn for the play-in match. The play-in spherical begins April 12 and concludes April 15.
Things may change somewhat rapidly for the Nets, as star guard Kyrie Irving grew to become a full-time participant after Mayor Eric Adams revised New York City’s private-sector vaccine mandate final week.
The Nets host the Bucks on Thursday, whereas the Sixers play the Pistons in Detroit.