Doc Rivers on conversation with Ben Simmons after Sixers trade

One of the biggest storylines from last season centered around Ben Simmons and his desire to leave the Philadelphia 76ers. It was a long drawn-out saga that eventually ended with Simmons finally getting his wish after he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for James Harden.

Sixers coach Doc Rivers has now spoken out about the aftermath of that blockbuster deal and how his relationship with his former star currently stands. Apparently, Simmons called Rivers after the trade was made official, and the pair had a heartfelt conversation about all the drama. The 60-year-old shot-caller made his revelation during a recent episode of Vince Carter’s The VC Show on ESPN (h/t Timothy Rapp of Bleacher Report,

“That one comment [made after the Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the 2021 Eastern Conference Semifinals] had nothing to do with why Ben wanted to leave,” Rivers said. “Let me just say that. It was a lot of things—as Ben told me, and publicly now—that happened long before I got there. What frustrated me was that I still think it shouldn’t have been enough to want to leave. I just didn’t. I told Ben that. I kept telling him that. ‘This is not why you want to leave the team. You work these things out.’ They didn’t get worked out.

“We’ve had one talk—a long, long talk—but we did have one good talk. Ben called me, afterwards, which I thought was great, and we had a good talk. The point was he was already leaving and … listen, I really believe, even though 99 percent of the people didn’t, that we could make this work with Ben and [Joel Embiid] and the team. Because I’m built that way, that’s what coaches have to do.”

It seems like Rivers and Simmons were able to iron things out shortly after the trade saga ended. To some extent, Rivers was also able to clear his conscience after confirming with Ben Simmons that his controversial comments after the Sixers’ heartbreaking Game 7 loss to the Hawks back in 2021 were NOT the tipping point that pushed the former Rookie of the Year out of Philadelphia. As a matter of fact, Rivers claims that his statement “had nothing to do” with Simmons’ decision.

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Right now, Simmons has a lot to prove with the Nets. He sat out the entirety of the last season due to injury, but he’s hoping to be ready for the start of the 2022-23 campaign. At this point, though, it remains to be seen who his teammates are going to be once the new season tips off.

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