Drama in Camden!
Ben Simmons was tossed from Tuesday’s practice and sent home. He’s been suspended for Wednesday’s season opener, and as a result of that, did not speak to the 50+ media members in attendance. It was a shit show, trust me. A total zoo.
Here’s the full transcript of what Doc Rivers said when the scribes were allowed inside practice shortly after noon:
Q: What happened today?
A: I just thought he was a distraction today. I didn’t think he wanted to do what everybody else was doing. It was early. It wasn’t a big deal. I just told him to leave then and we went on with practice.
Q: Is this going to be a lingering issue?
A: I don’t know. I’m gonna give every day, every single moment, I’m going to give Ben a chance to rejoin the team, and be part of the team. He’s under contract to be part of the team, so that’s not going to change. Sometimes it happens quick and guys are back in and sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve been in both situations and I’m fine with that. But at the end of the day as a coach I have to protect the team. It’s team first, and then we get to the other part. Today I thought it was more about focusing on the team.
Q: How do you bring a guy back who obviously doesn’t want to be here?
A: You watch football, basketball, baseball, and this has happened a thousand times. It can happen here, too. My job is a coach is to keep trying to get guys to buy in, to be in, and unfortunately this is tougher, this situation, but it’s my job and I’m not going to stop my job.
Q: Did he explain anything to you?
A: We’ve had conversations. We had a good conversation today. That’s not to be shared. That’s between Ben and I.
Q: At what point do you say –
A: There’s no point; I’m not going to project out to –
Q: I’m not saying that; it’s not about projecting out, but after a while when a guy is disengaged –
A: You keep doing your job. Hopefully it doesn’t get (to that point). Again, I have to focus on our team, not what could happen. I’ve got to focus on what’s happening now. Right now I’m telling you our team is focused. I can’t tell you if they’re gonna be focused in three weeks or not, you know what I’m saying?
Q: If you’re focused right now, why bring him back?
A: Because he’s a good player. He can help us. The one thing I know about players, our players will welcome anyone back who wants to be in. And players will not welcome anybody who does not want to be in. So when that time comes, I guarantee you it won’t be a hard thing to do. I guarantee you.
Q: Did you get a sense this was coming?
A: No. I don’t come in with a pre-plan, like today I’m gonna throw Keith (Pompey) out.
Q: I guess what I meant is, was this a surprise –
A: Everything is a surprise. Everything. This is not (inaudible).
Q: When you practice Thursday, is he going to be out here?
A: I would expect that.
Q: How did he respond?
A: I don’t go through that; that’s internal stuff. That’s fodder for you guys to write. Like he STORMED out. I don’t do that stuff. I’ll let you guys do that.
Q: How about the rest of the guys (a response)?
A: Same thing, that’s internal. As I said, that’s for you guys to write about, figure that out. I’ll let you figure it out. We had a great practice.
Q: Will he be welcomed back?
A: Yeah, absolutely.
Q: What was he doing to be a distraction?
A: That’s none of your business. That’s why practice is closed. Honestly. I’m not being a jerk. There’s things you need to know and things you don’t.
Q: Does he like being here?
A: Today, obviously not. We told him to go home. But hopefully at some point, yeah, I hope he does.
Sources: Doc Rivers asked Ben Simmons to join a defensive drill today. Simmons refused. Rivers asked again. Simmons said no again.
Rivers then told Simmons he should go home, and Simmons dropped the ball and left.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 19, 2021