Last Monday, Ben Simmons made a surprising return to Philadelphia. After telling the Sixers he planned to skip training camp and the preseason and staying true to his word, nobody expected it when the three-time All-Star showed up to the Wells Fargo Center requesting a COVID-19 test.
Simmons underwent the proper steps to re-join the Sixers. After several meetings with coaches and executives, taking numerous COVID-19 tests, and participating in a physical and private workout, Simmons finally returned to the court on Sunday.
"He was just one of the players," said Sixers head coach Doc Rivers. "It was good overall. He was in and out. You know, it was not a great practice -- not because of him -- more because you take a day off, three games before the first game and guys, unfortunately, know math, but overall it was a good day."
Players and coaches didn't want to make a big deal over Simmons' return despite the All-Star guard's absence being the talk of the town for the last few weeks. While several players admitted that the entire Simmons saga was a growing disappointment, the 76ers were honest and made it clear they're a better team with Ben Simmons on the court rather than without him.
So, when Simmons took the court on Sunday, it was business as usual. As the 76ers want to win, that's where they've kept their focus. However, there's no guarantee just yet that Simmons will participate in actual games. As the season opener is set for Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers is unsure of Simmons' status as of right now.
"I don't know yet," Rivers said when asked if Simmons was trending towards playing on Wednesday or not. "I'm gonna wait and see. You know, conditioning, I would say just watching him, I thought he was in decent shape. You know, still not obviously game shape because you can't do all of this stuff but overall, yeah."
Simmons has a lot of catching up to do. While the Sixers have a roster similar to last year's and possess the same coaching staff, Simmons still has to find a way to get comfortable over the next couple of days before the Sixers participate in their first game of the regular season.
"Right now, I'm just trying to get him back comfortable and integrated," Rivers continued. "I'm not even thinking about that. That'll come at some point, but there's no game plan here. There's no game plan here. I'll tell you that. When he's ready, he'll play."
With the season opener just a couple of days away, it's safe to say that Simmons' status against the Pelicans is up in the air as of now. While his return to the practice court is an encouraging sign, it's still unclear if Simmons will play another minute in a Philadelphia 76ers uniform again.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.