A return by Ben Simmons to the Philadelphia 76ers ‘doesn’t have to be awkward’, said Joel Embiid, whose critical comments at the end of last season appeared to have triggered the Australian NBA star’s request for a trade and subsequent holdout.
With no acceptable trade option having presented itself Simmons unexpectedly returned on Monday to take a Covid-19 test before the preseason tip-off between the Sixers and Brooklyn Nets.
Embiid, who said last week the situation was “borderline disrespectful”, took a different tone on Tuesday.
“I think there’s going to be some adjustments, but it doesn’t need to be awkward,” Embiid said of Simmons rejoining the roster and ending his contentious holdout.
“We’re all professionals. We want to win. He gives me the best chance to win. … We’re going to be fine.”
Simmons requested a trade and reportedly made it clear he would not play for the team again in August and has been content to pay fines approaching $US1m ($A1.4m) for staying away since.
A three-time All-Star, Simmons has averages of 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game over his four NBA seasons. The 25-year-old Australian is under contract for four more years after signing a five-year deal worth more than $177 million in 2020.
In last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals against the Hawks, Simmons passed on a wide-open dunk late in Game 7. The 76ers ended up losing to close their season.
Post-game Embid was critical of Simmons performance with coach Doc Rivers offering lukewarm support of the point guard.