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The Ben Simmons saga in Philadelphia came to a merciful end earlier this month when he was traded to the Nets as the headliner of a package for Brooklyn’s very own disgruntled star, James Harden.
Simmons’ falling out with the Sixers has been documented time and again from seemingly every perspective, and once we get through March 10 when the Nets go to Philly for the two teams’ first matchup since the trade, we can hopefully move on from it all. This weekend, Joel Embiid sat down with Malika Andrews to discuss his season and that trade, both in how he felt about Simmons’ departure and his new teammate in Harden.
Embiid was fairly diplomatic, in that he said he believes Simmons will help take the Nets to another level, but also explained that he felt he tried to do everything he could to mend fences with Simmons and get him back, eventually getting to the point where “I didn’t care anymore.”
“I did a lot of chasing around trying to get him back and try to make him feel comfortable again. It was tough. I didn’t care anymore.”
Joel Embiid on Ben Simmons, James Harden, and the MVP race. Catch our convo on NBA Today: pic.twitter.com/cI2dXv6QIn
— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) February 22, 2022
“I’d probably say a week or two before the trade deadline,” Embiid said about the last time he spoke to Simmons. “He’s a great player and I think whatever he’s gonna add to Brooklyn is gonna take them to another level too. I did a lot of chasing around, try to get him back and try to make him feel comfortable again. It was tough. I didn’t care anymore. … If I had pride, I’m outspoken and I’m honest, you know, I could’ve said a lot of stuff, but I still did whatever I thought was good to do as a teammate.”
It tracks with just about everything else Embiid has said dating back to training camp, when he told reporters their “job is not to babysit” Simmons while also noting that Simmons is a player that makes the Sixers better. The Sixers star and others wanted to visit LA this offseason to talk to Simmons but were told not to come, and it certainly seems that at that point, they decided to move on as best they could. The result has been an impressive 35-23 start to the season, good for third in the East with a real shot at a top seed if Harden gets on the floor at full strength this week as is being indicated.
As for the Nets, Simmons is expected to be back soon as well, and all parties can move forward for good, although they’ll still see each other plenty as divisional rivals now.