Doc Rivers still planning for Ben Simmons to play this season despite holdout, questions

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Doc Rivers doesn’t know how the Ben Simmons saga will end up for him and the Philadelphia 76ers.

After a holdout, and Simmons making it clear that he doesn’t want to be in Philadelphia, Simmons cleared the NBA’s COVID-19 protocol on Friday and is expected to be at practice on Sunday ahead of the season opener next week.

Yet Rivers, and everyone else, still has no idea if Simmons will take the court for the 76ers this season.

For now, though, Rivers is insisting that he hasn’t quit on Simmons.

“Is it a perfect situation? No, and I get that,” Rivers said Friday, via the Philadelphia Inquirer. “But I’m never going to give up on a player that’s on the roster. I just can’t do that. It doesn’t matter what the player is saying. He’s on the roster, and my job is to get every player that’s on the team to believe that this team, that is together right now, can win it.

“That doesn’t matter if a player wants to be here or not, I have to get that across.”

Doc Rivers points at something off camera as he talks to Ben Simmons on a basketball court.
Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers isn't ready to give up on Ben Simmons yet. (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Ben Simmons ended holdout, shocked 76ers

Simmons has been in the center of a tumultuous offseason with the 76ers.

He skipped training camp, as there was reportedly “bad blood” between himself and the rest of the team, and he reportedly told them that he wanted out. Simmons was also fined $360,000 for missing a preseason game. He did not play with the team against Detroit on Friday night in their final preseason game, either.

Yet on Monday night, Simmons surprised even the 76ers front office by showing up to the team facility.

It’s unclear if his holdout is actually over, or what comes next. The 76ers are set to open their season on Wednesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans, though Simmons’ status for that game is still unknown.

While plenty of questions still remain, Rivers doesn’t have any answers. For now, he said, he’s just taking it slow.

“The first step was getting him through protocol,” Rivers said, via the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Now, the next step is getting him integrated with the team.”

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