NBA rumors: Erik Spoelstra is a trojan horse, surprise suitor for JaVale McGee, Ben Simmons still loves Philly

  • Erik Spoelstra continues to earn heaps of praise from Team USA players
  • JaVale McGee could have his next NBA home lined up
  • Ben Simmons still loves Philadelphia after all this time
Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers
Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers / Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
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NBA Rumors: Even after 76ers exit, Ben Simmons loves Philadelphia

Ben Simmons' exit from the Philadelphia 76ers was the NBA equivalent of a messy divorce. Everyone around them could see it coming for a while, but it combusted all at once when the No. 1 seed Sixers lost to Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks in the 2021 Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Simmons famously choked in Game 7, with his wide open below-the-rim pass to Matisse Thybulle standing as a pillar of franchise lore. After the game, Doc Rivers said "I don't know" when asked if Simmons was the point guard for a championship team. From there, it all went to stink, with Simmons deciding to hold out for the 2021-22 season and citing mental health concerns as the basis for his refusal to play.

In hindsight, it's clear Simmons was in fact dealing with mental health hurdles and the psychological fallout of a difficult playoff run. He also dealt with constant back issues. Both problems lingered into his first full season with the Nets, during which Simmons appeared gun shy and half-speed. The Philly faithful were extremely harsh toward Simmons, which is true to form, and that relationship feels irrevocably broken.


In a recent conversation with NBA insider Marc Spears, Simmons opened up about his experience in Philadelphia. One might expect Simmons to criticize the fanbase and hand-waive the city, but no. Looking back at it, Simmons maintains a deep appreciation for Philly and his experience with the franchise.

"I had a lot of fun there," he told Andscape. "It was time for me to go. When I did leave, it was good timing. Obviously, the injury and everything that was going on didn’t help. But I think it gave me a chance to really appreciate it. I’ll always have love for Philly. People always ask me like, ‘If you were to get traded again where you want it to be?’ I always say, ‘Just Philly. Philly is a second home to me.’ And in time, you learn and grow as people. I don’t really have anything bad to say about Philly. It was a crazy situation at the end, but it is what it is."

Simmons has felt nothing but torrential vitriol from the Sixers fanbase. For him to take that heat and still dub Philadelphia a second home says a lot about the city and its unique atmosphere, but it also says a lot about Simmons as a person. As he says — we all learn and grow as people.

It's too early to tell if Simmons can return to his All-Star form, but the Nets will certainly bank on improvement from their max contract point guard. Simmons is the healthiest he has been in a long time and could be due for a renaissance after two bumpy years.

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