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#pounditSaturday, April 13, 2024

Doc Rivers denies throwing Ben Simmons under the bus

Doc Rivers

A lot has been reported about the fractured relationship between Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers, and Doc Rivers acknowledged on Wednesday that the former first overall pick wants to be traded. What the coach does not appreciate, however, is the narrative that he threw Simmons under the bus following the Sixers’ playoff exit.

After the Sixers lost Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series with the Atlanta Hawks, Rivers was given a chance to throw his support behind Simmons. He was asked if he believes Simmons can be the point guard on a championship team, to which Rivers replied, “I don’t even know the answer to that right now.” In an appearance on ESPN’s “First Take” Wednesday, Rivers said the media has “misrepresented” what he said.

“I never said what was reported,” Rivers insisted. “A question was asked about Ben. It was the first question after we just lost Game 7. My answer was, ‘I’m not answering any of that stuff right now, guys. I don’t even know how to answer that.’ That had nothing to do with Ben. I basically said I’m not answering that crap, those questions.

“It was being portrayed as I was out there saying I don’t think we can win with Ben, and I do. I told Ben that the next day.”

Rivers, who was visibly frustrated while speaking with Stephen A. Smith, also said the 76ers do not want to trade Simmons.

“We would love to get Ben back. If we can, we’re gonna try to do that,” the coach said. “Ben has a long contract. It’s in our hands, and we want him back.”

You can hear Doc’s full comments below:

Rivers certainly did not throw Simmons under the bus the way Joel Embiid did. People were more surprised that the coach had an opportunity to defend a star player who was coming off a poor performance, and he chose not to. That was quite telling, and there have been reports that Simmons even wanted an apology over it.

Do the Sixers actually want Simmons back? Probably not. It has become clear that Simmons has no intention of ever playing for them again. Rival teams know that, which is why they are likely unwilling to meet Philly’s high asking price. Even if the relationship between Simmons and Rivers is tarnished beyond repair, it is in the Sixers’ best interest to try to convince the public that is not the case. Rivers understands that as well as anyone.

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