Ben Simmons' sudden appearance on the Philadelphia 76ers' injury report on Saturday afternoon raised some eyebrows at the time. Hours leading up to the Sixers' matchup against the Denver Nuggets, Simmons was just one of six members of the 76ers roster not to have his name on the team's injury report.
However, before Sixers head coach Doc Rivers addressed the media for a routine pregame press conference, Philly mysteriously ruled out Simmons with a knee injury. "Ben, in the Brooklyn game, had some knee stiffness," Rivers said on Saturday. "We almost probably knew after the game [on Thursday] that he wouldn't play [on Saturday]."
Simmons didn't play on Saturday, and he also didn't travel to Atlanta on Sunday night as the Sixers had a game on the schedule against the Hawks for Monday. According to Kyle Neubeck of The PhillyVoice, Simmons was continuing to receive treatment on his knee and reportedly responded well to it.
While signs of Simmons getting treatment indicate he's actually dealing with a physical setback despite there being questions about his injury on Saturday, that didn't prevent the NBA from punishing the Sixers for failing to list him on the injury report last week.
"The Philadelphia 76ers have been fined $25,000 for violating the league's injury reporting rules," the NBA announced in a statement on Monday afternoon. "The violation occurred when the 76ers failed to list guard Ben Simmons on the team's initial injury report for a game on January 9 against the Denver Nuggets in which Simmons did not play."
Philly didn't make the same mistake for Monday's game against the Hawks as Simmons was ruled out as early as Sunday. And just as the mysterious absence of Simmons during Saturday's game seems cleared up, another interesting twist in the story surfaces.
According to Yahoo Sports NBA Insider Vincent Goodwill, Simmons reportedly left New York on Thursday night as the Sixers planned to quarantine after learning that starting guard Seth Curry had tested positive for COVID-19.
"What I have gathered was that Ben Simmons left New York that evening [on Thursday]," Goodwill said on Chris Haynes' 'Posted Up' podcast. "He left New York and went to Philadelphia." Per Goodwill's report, Simmons decided to split from Brooklyn without permission from the team. And when the Sixers found out, the two-time All-Star had to return.
"This is like some serious stuff," Goodwill continued. "So, they find out, Ben Simmons has to come back, and magically he ends up on the injury report the next day, not playing. Now, who knows how you want to connect the dots. That's for us to do here on the Posted Up podcast. We are just going to present the water for you and allow you to drink it."
Based on Doc Rivers' last Ben Simmons-related update, the veteran's absence has nothing to do with off-court violations. Before the Sixers took on the Hawks on Monday, Rivers discussed Simmons' setback once more. "I don't think [it's anything long-term]," Rivers explained in regards to Simmons' injury. "But again, we thought it might be one game, and it's already two. You know, so we're hoping he will play tomorrow night, but I can't guarantee any of that."
Whether Simmons will play on Tuesday night against the Miami Heat or not is currently unknown. As Philly has yet to submit an injury report for their matchup against Miami, Simmons' status and rumored off-court activities remain up in the air for right now.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_