Ben Simmons' first week of practice with the Sixers this offseason wasn't ideal for a team that's gunning for a title in 2021-2022. Simmons wasn't exactly a willing participant after appearing on the court for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday's sessions.
By day three, he was told to leave the practice facility during practice by Sixers head coach Doc Rivers. "I just thought he was a distraction," Rivers said after the incident. "He didn't want to do what everybody else was doing. It was early, and it wasn't a big deal. I just told him he should leave then, and we went on with practice."
After Simmons was sent home early, he received a one-game suspension. Therefore, he missed Wednesday night's preseason opener against the New Orleans Pelicans. Then on Thursday, Simmons made his return to the facility for a solo workout session, which he never participated in.
The three-time All-Star guard mentioned he was dealing with back tightness to the Sixers' medical staff. Then on Friday, Simmons told Sixers coaches, officials, and teammates that he wasn't mentally ready to return to the court to play, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
76ers veteran Georges Niang was the first player to speak publicly since Friday morning's team meeting. As expected, the first-year Sixer declined to comment on what was said and instead made it clear that it was a positive sit-down. Not too long after Niang's post-shootaround media availability, 76ers forward Tobias Harris took to Twitter to show his support for the 25-year-old disgruntled guard.
Earlier this week, Harris spoke on Simmons' return following a practice session. While he hinted that there was some awkwardness around the team since Simmons' holdout was very public, Harris made it clear that members of the roster are taking the high road and being patient with Simmons.
"We're grown men here," Harris said on Sunday. "This is not middle school, seventh or eighth grade. As soon as we step on that floor, it's just basketball. Honestly, that's the way it should be. We're here for one thing, and that's to be the best team that we can be, compete, and get better as a group. So, all of the other energy of this and that -- the vibe was what it was. Was it perfect? No. But we're here to do a job, and that's to win basketball games. We'll put our big boy pants on, go on the floor, and do what we do. That's pretty much it."
Once again, Harris proves the 76ers are going to remain focused on the task at hand, which is winning games. And when Ben Simmons is ready to re-join the roster and fully commit to helping the Sixers reach their goal, the three-time All-Star will be embraced and supported by his teammates.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.