In an ESPN interview and a podcast, two of Ben Simmons former teammates added fuel to the fire that will likely ignite on March 10 when the Nets and 76ers take the court at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
Both Joel Embiid and Danny Green took the airwaves in the past 24 hours to talk about Simmons, with Embiid playing the unlikely role of diplomat and Green suggesting that the Nets newest star is unlikely to play in the big Eastern Conference game and that he had less than “cordial” relations with the two Sixers traded with him to Brooklyn, Seth Curry and Andre Drummond.
Embiid’s comments were not surprising in that he and Simmons had a falling out following last season’s post-game loss to the Hawks, with Embiid essentially blaming Simmons, saying after Game 7: “I’ll be honest: I thought the turning point was when we had an open shot, and we made one free throw and we missed the other, and they came down and scored.” Without using Simmons name, Embiid threw him under the bus.
Then last October, after Simmons refused to participate in Sixers training camp, Embiid said, “I’m not here to babysit,” talking about Simmons.
In an interview with Malka Andrews of ESPN, Embiid claimed he tried his best to bring Simmons back into the Sixers’ fold, but having failed stopped caring.
“I’ll be honest with you, a week or two before the trade deadline” Embiid told Andrews when asked when the two had last spoken, adding, “He’s a great player. I think whatever he adds to Brooklyn is going to take him to another level. I did a lot of chasing around, tried to get him back and make him feel comfortable again. It was time I didn’t care anymore.”
Embiid also claimed “I’ve have pride. I am outspoken. I am honest. I could have said a lot of stuff. I still did whatever I thought was good to do for a teammate.”
In his introductory press conference with the Nets last week, Simmons said that while he had spoken with Doc Rivers and some teammates as he exited Philly, he had not spoken with his All-NBA teammate.
On the other hand, Green was by no means diplomatic on his podcast, The Green Room. He essentially questioned Simmons courage, saying he expects that Simmons to be a no-show for the game. Perhaps more significant, the two-time NBA champion said that Simmons was not on “the most cordial of terms” with Curry and Drummond.
“Interesting dynamic of things went down. Interesting dynamic of who went with him. i haven’t gotten a chance to talk to those guys yet but I know they weren’t on the most cordial of terms when he was in Philly with Drum and Seth,” Green told his podcast partner Harrison Sanford. “So I wonder how that relationship is now. I haven’t got a chance to talk to them.”
Then, when Sanford asked Green if he thought Simmons and he would shake hands before or after the game, the veteran shooting guard spoke for two minutes, expanding his answer beyond the handshake question to include a discussion of Simmons willingness to play in big moments.
“Will we shake hands to start? Probably not. First, I’ll be highly surprised if he even plays. I don’t know where his health is mentally, physically. I know he had other issues and we all know he does not like playing in Philly. So if he does play in that game, I’d be highly surprised.
“But say that does happen. I see that as being very hectic, playoff-like environment to where it may be very rough for him. Depending on how he interacts …I don’t have any ill will toward the guy, I don’t hate him I don’t dislike him, it’s just for me, it’s whatever. I waste more energy going out of my way to dislike him, or spend energy trying to go out of my way to hate him or do things to him. If he comes up and shows love, I’ll say what’s up, that’s the type of deal I’m on. I’m not the type of guy to not say what’s up to people that say what’s up to me. Let bygones be bygones.”
At the end of the discussion, Green, a two time NBA champion, seemed to take a step back.
“I understand you have mental health issues. I understand you don’t want to play but whatever it is, do what you need to do to make it better for your life, that’s cool,” he said. “Do I think you could have handled it better? For sure. We had nothing against you as teammates. We’ve nothing against you.”
Bottom line as to whether he’ll shake hands?
“Will he It all depends on how that game goes, how he interacts, how well he plays, how cleanly or non-cleanly, he or us plays against each other determines if we shake hands,” Green said.
Is Green trying to psyche out Simmons? Simmons said in his introductory press conference that he “hoped” to play vs. the Sixers and Sean Marks wouldn’t shut the door on Simmons — and Kevin Durant — being ready even before March 10.
“It’s probably going to be tough playing in the next three or four days but we’ll see how it all plays out,” Marks said Tuesday, adding, “I’m certainly not going to bet against either one of those guys.”
- Danny Green reveals Ben Simmons, Seth Curry weren’t ‘cordial,’ doesn’t think Simmons will play March 10 – Dave Early – Liberty Ballers
- Danny Green Would Be ‘Surprised’ if Ben Simmons Faces Sixers Next Month – Justin Grasso – Sports Illustrated
- Danny Green doesn’t expect Ben Simmons to play in Sixers vs. Nets on March 10th – Kyle Neubeck – Philly Voice
- Sixers’ Danny Green talks Ben Simmons, who ‘does not like to play in Philly’ – Adam Hermann – Yahoo! Sports