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When Dwight Howard inked a one-year deal with the Philadelphia 76ers last year, he immediately grew close to Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons. As the two share a lot of similarities and have mutual friends, Simmons has admittedly viewed Howard as a great friend and a mentor throughout last season.

These days, Howard is no longer around the City of Brotherly Love. After wrapping up his lone stint with the Sixers, Howard moved back out West to pursue a third stint with the Los Angeles Lakers. And since Howard's been gone, so has Ben Simmons technically, as he hasn't suited up for the Sixers since last year's playoff run.

At this point, it's evident Simmons wants to be traded. Not only has he requested a fresh start numerous times, but he's remained off the court for training camp, preseason, and the entire regular season so far.

As he's not mentally ready to return to action, Simmons has been seeing mental health professionals while doing some personal work on the court. While the Sixers hope Simmons returns to play for them once again, his status to do so remains up in the air. From the outside looking in, Dwight Howard sees Simmons' situation as one he can relate to, as he dealt with a similar scenario early on in his career.

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When GQ's Tyler Tynes asked if he would return to play for the Sixers if he were in Simmons's shoes after everything that's transpired throughout the offseason, Howard responded accordingly.

"Well, I would have to be a professional first and do my job. To the best of my ability. But he probably just wants a fresh start. That’s why I wanted to leave Orlando. I just wanted a fresh start. It wasn’t nothing wrong with the team or the city. I loved Orlando. Loved Orlando! Every time I left Orlando I couldn’t wait to get back home to Orlando..

"It had nothing to do with the people of that city at all. I was there for eight years of life and I wanted to be somewhere else. Everybody deserves a chance to be reborn. I was way too comfortable there and I wanted to grow as a man. I feel like since I left Orlando all the things that I’ve wanted happened in my life. Everything. I’m thankful that me leaving Orlando happened because if not I would never be who I am today. I would’ve never grown."

Howard believes Simmons wants a chance to be reborn in the NBA. After getting selected first-overall by the Sixers in the 2016 NBA Draft, Simmons entered a situation where he immediately became a face of the organization. Ever since he stepped foot on the court, the Sixers have made it to the playoffs in all four years.

But that regular-season success hasn't convinced Simmons to stay. While there are several theories out there as to why Simmons wants to move on -- the three-time All-Star has yet to speak for himself and confirm why he wants out.

In Howard's eyes, the young veteran simply wants a fresh start. As Howard saw success with the Magic early on in his career, he still wanted a fresh start at a certain point with no love lost for Orlando or the Magic. Therefore, Howard believes Simmons is in a similar predicament. 

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.