On today's episode, Mannix and Beck are joined by Sports Illustrated writers Michael Pina, Rohan Nadkarni and Chris Herring to preview the Eastern Conference! We'll discuss the latest drama of Ben Simmons being kicked out of practice, if Giannis can win MVP, where the Knicks will finish and more!
Chris Mannix: I'm joined as always by Howard Beck and a collection of people from The Open Floor Podcast, Chris Herring, Michael Pina, and Rohan Nadkarni. Gentlemen, we picked a very good day to record a podcast. An interesting day to record a podcast. The Ben Simmons situation in Philadelphia has officially gone nuclear. The Sixers suspending Ben Simmons on Tuesday for conduct detrimental to the team. Now I want everybody to weigh in on this, but I do want to kind of run through the timeline of the last week or so to kind of set it up. Uh, last week, Simmons ended his two-week holdout by just showing up at the Sixers facility, unbeknownst to anyone while the team was playing a pre-season game. On Sunday, Simmons returned to Sixers practice. Not much came out of that, Doc Rivers talked about some conditioning issues, very light. On Monday, a video surfaced when media was allowed into the practice facility of Simmons practicing with his cell phone in his pocket. I reached out to a half dozen or so assistant coaches, NBA coaches, to ask, if that was normal in any way, I was told absolutely not by every one of them. So that kind of made some waves, uh, regarding the Simmons situation. On Tuesday, Simmons was thrown out of practice early reportedly for refusing to participate in a defensive drill. Soon after he was suspended for that season opener against New Orleans.
All right, Chris Herring, I will start with you, your reaction to the latest twist in the Simmons drama.
Chris Herring: I guess it's actually me being surprised that Ben Simmons wasn't opting out of an offensive drill as opposed to a defensive one. So, I mean, in a nutshell, it makes a lot of sense if we're surmising all this and we're saying, well, he doesn't really want to be there. He still doesn't really want to be there, but he wants his money, so maybe this is a way to get that done. Maybe this is a way to get it done, but damn like, I don't know what it does for your trade value. Maybe he wants to hurt the Sixers on the way out in that regard too. I don't know, but at this point I was of the opinion, maybe you could still patch this up, make this work, everybody's a little bit bruised. Uh, I guess we're past that point I feel like The Sixers could still be pretty good, but I don't see a universe in which they can co-exist anymore. Obviously, this was probably the last salvo that could really be fired in that regard.
Chris Mannix: Michael, I was curious how Simmons was going to handle all this. Like, was he going to come in and play hard and, you know, turn it around quick? Because I thought there was a scenario where he could have turned the tide so to speak. I thought he could have won back the fans quickly if they started winning games and he was playing well. The alternative kind of was to take the James Harden approach and just be indifferent to, uh, to what's going on down there.
Michael Pina: Yeah, I mean I thought this was very predictable. It's a page out of the Jimmy Butler, James Harden, as you said, playbook, except, I mean, number one, um, Ben Simmons is not as good as either of those guys. And he doesn't have the cachet, despite the All-Star appearances and All-NBA appearances and defensive player of the year runner up, wherever he finished last year. He doesn't have the same cachet or the clout as those guys to pull off something like this. And at least with Jimmy and James, you kind of knew their motivations clearly. Jimmy Butler was a little miffed that some of his younger, less accomplished teammates were getting paid by the organization and the Minnesota Timberwolves were not, um, giving him the max extension that he desired. And James Harden just wanted to win a championship. And he knew that that just wasn't going to happen with the Houston Rockets. But with Simmons, it's like he's already on a contender. They finished first in the Eastern Conference last season, and primarily the reason they didn't advance to the conference finals was his own shortcomings as a basketball player. And he's already on a max contract for the next four years. So, it's just, it's very bizarre. Um, it's not a good look for him. He's getting bad advice, frankly, from whoever is giving it to him in my opinion.
Chris Mannix: Mike, do you think he's getting bad opinions? Like I can't fathom this being a strategy, like say what you want about Rich Paul, but I can't believe he'd say, all right, stay away and then when you get back act like a complete jackass. Anyone who's been around this game could have foreseen that the Sixers who had an $8 million lump payment there, that they're supposed to pay Ben Simmons, weren't going to give it to him days after he didn't show up. Like, this to me screams, just Ben Simmons feeling like he can find a way to force his way out of there.
Michael Pina: No, I mean, you make a really good point. I do want to applaud him for the cell phone in the pocket look, because that's just, you know, you got money to spend when you're willing to just let your cell phone fall out of your pocket and you just smash it on the ground repeatedly. So shout out to him for that move. I thought that was a little ingenious but you're right Chris. Maybe I misspoke when I said that he was getting advice cause you're right, there's no clear through-line here, um, for his actions and his behavior and it's just not a good look at all. It's embarrassing.
Howard Beck: Let me just point out real quick, that, NBA players, all of them have multiple phones. So there's the primary one, that's the important one. The people you really want to be able to get a hold of you, then you got the one that is the number you give out to people that you really don't care about. And that's the number you're going to change in three weeks anyway, that's the phone he had in his pocket. That's the burner that he just doesn't give a crap about.
Rohan Nadkarni: You're saying that was the one for the plug Howard?
Howard Beck: Um, I'm saying it's the phone number that he gave you Rohan.
Chris Mannix: Does he think that he's going to get traded, Rohan? Like during practice? Like what? I don't get the point. Like I had another exec text me while we're recording this, he called it atypical for a guy to have a phone in his pocket. So I don't know why you would have it, although other than to see it show up on camera.
Rohan Nadkarni: He is throwing every play in the playbook he has at the Sixers. It's; I'm going to stay away, I'm not going to talk to anybody, I'm not going to show up to a meeting, I'm going to surprise show up, I'm going to attend practice, I'm going to be a jackass in practice, I'm going to have my phone. He's going full, Andrew Bynum, he's throwing everything that he can throw at the Sixers.
Listen to The Crossover NBA Podcast:
Find recent episodes on SI.com.