When the Philadelphia 76ers dropped Game 7 against the Atlanta Hawks in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs, Doc Rivers shocked many during his postgame press conference. 

As the head coach has defended Ben Simmons publicly every time the three-time All-Star guard received even an ounce of criticism, Rivers raised eyebrows when he couldn't confirm whether or not he believed Simmons could be a point guard on a championship-winning team.

"I don't know the answer to that right now," Rivers said. Although words were twisted when Ben Simmons took the podium on that same night, the Sixers' point guard understandably wasn't thrilled to hear his head coach question his abilities.

At this point, it's clear that Rivers' postgame comments caused a rift between the head coach and his starting point guard. Past reports have described the player-coach relationship as fractured beyond repair.

And recently, Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice reported that Simmons and Rivers had had little contact this offseason as it's been nearly impossible for Rivers to get ahold of Simmons throughout the summer.

"It almost goes without saying that bridge-building would need to be done between Simmons and Doc Rivers. The head coach tried to walk back the despair he showed after Game 7 during exit interviews the very next day, and his defenses of Simmons far outnumber his one high-profile shoulder shrug. Even still, getting the two to connect during the offseason has been close to impossible, sources say. Ultimately, this is in Simmons' hands. Rivers would tell you himself that he regrets letting his guard down during Simmons' lowest moment as a professional. Some missteps are just harder to come back from than others."

All offseason long, the Sixers fielded calls for a potential Ben Simmons trade. As inquiring teams have struggled to meet Daryl Morey's asking price, Simmons remains untraded. With training camp nearly a week away, Simmons is expected to be a member of the 76ers' roster when the offseason activities begin.

Will he participate, though? That's the big question. As of now, Simmons mentioned intends to hold out, and the Sixers believe he will. How long will the holdout last? Only time will tell. While there is a growing belief that Simmons will ultimately play for the Sixers again at some point, the rift between Simmons and Rivers seems to be holding up his return to Philly.

As Simmons remains unresponsive to his head coach, it lands Rivers in a difficult situation as it seems he hasn't really received a fair opportunity to mend his working relationship with the three-time All-Star. Perhaps, that will change soon enough as trade talks have slowed down for the Sixers over the last few weeks. 

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