With the James Harden-Ben Simmons trade in the rear view and the merriment of NBA All-Star weekend over, the basketball world is officially focusing on the future.
In particular, the near future: Harden will make his Sixers debut Friday vs. the Timberwolves, and Simmons is reportedly ramping up towards a return to the court that might just coincide with his Nets’ scheduled visit to Philadelphia.
There could be a lot of fireworks in Sixers world over the next couple weeks, and it sounds like members of the team’s locker room are thinking the impending drama just as much as fans are.
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Veteran Sixers sharpshooter Danny Green released a new episode of his Inside The Green Room podcast this week in which Green and co-host Harrison Sanford discussed a wide range of basketball topics, but the most passionate segment came when Sanford asked Green about the Simmons trade and what he expects for that March 10 game.
Here are Green’s comments on Simmons, the ex-Sixer’s relationship with some teammates, and whether or not he’ll bring a warm welcome to the Wells Fargo Center next month:
“Interesting dynamic of how things went down, interesting dynamic of who went with [Simmons]. I haven’t gotten a chance to talk to [Seth Curry and Andre Drummond] yet, but I know they weren’t on the most of cordial terms when he was in Philly, with Drum and Seth. So I wonder how that relationship is now, when I’ll have a chance to talk to them.
“Now, will we shake hands to start? Probably not. First, I’d be highly surprised if he even plays in that game. I don’t know where his health is – mentally, physically, I know he had other issues – and we all know he does not like to play in Philly. So if he does play in that game, I’d be highly surprised.
“But say that does happen? I see it as being a very hectic playoff-like environment, atmosphere, to where itmay be very rough for him. Depending on how he acts – I don’t have any ill wills towards the guy. I don’t hate him, I don’t dislike him, it’s just – for me it’s whatever. I don’t waste more energy going out of my way to dislike him or spend any more 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. […] But it all depends on how that game goes, how he interacts in that game and how well he plays, how cleanly or non-cleanly he or us plays against each other. That’s going to determine how we shake hands. But I highly doubt he plays in that game, and if he does I highly doubt he wants to shake hands before or after that game.”
Well okay then! That’s a lot of spice in one podcast segment.
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Let’s break down my three biggest takeaways:
This is pretty interesting to me. I’m sure the Nets were thinking more of simply amassing talent than assessing personality fit when they were asking the Sixers for trade compensation in Curry and Drummond, but team chemistry can’t be overlooked. Adding two guys who weren’t exactly Simmons’ biggest fans is definitely a choice.
It makes sense for Drummond to not really have any relationship with Simmons considering he never played with the guy, but Curry and Simmons shared the floor for an entire season and playoff run last year. Very telling.
This was probably Green’s spiciest quote of all. There’d been speculation about Simmons’ feelings on Philly dating back to the time he was drafted, and after LeBron James moved to the Lakers questions popped up about whether he’d ultimately look to push his way West to the big Hollywood market of L.A.
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Whether Green means Simmons doesn’t like to play in Philly now, or he means Simmons has never liked playing in Philly, a large part of that distaste likely comes from his refusal to take accountability for his never-evolving game. He gets booed because he’s never improved. Crime fits the punishment.
Like Green, I’d be shocked if Simmons plays on March 10. He might be in the building, but I can’t see him taking the floor.
Simmons’ approach to leaving Philly certainly left little room for sympathy from fans or from his teammates, but you can always make the argument that he felt the need to get out of a toxic situation that was bad for his mental health and so he charted a path towards the exit in his own self-interest. That’s relatively fair; sometimes you do indeed need to put yourself first, even if as Green said in the podcast Simmons should’ve handled things better.
But if he’s not interested in shaking hands with any of his ex-teammates when he returns, after battling alongside them for years and then putting them in an awful position, both on and off the court, because of his trade demands? That’d be a pretty rough look, and I hope for Simmons’ sake that Green is wrong.
Just acknowledge the guys you used to be teammates with. You don’t have to hug or be overly buddy-buddy. But a dap before tip or a handshake after a hard-fought game isn’t so much to ask.
The Sixers and Nets are scheduled to tip at 7:30 p.m. on March 10. It should be an incredible night.
Sixers' Danny Green talks Ben Simmons, who 'does not like to play in Philly' – NBC Sports Philadelphia