Ben Simmons’ NBA coach Doc Rivers has softened his stance on the Australian’s future at the Philadelphia 76ers, saying he’s committed to fixing the All-Star’s offensive struggles.
Simmons attempted just one shot in the fourth quarter in the final six games of the series – a total of 43 minutes played – and passed up a certain game-tying lay-up late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s Game 7 loss to Atlanta Hawks.
Rivers hesitated to back Simmons when asked post-game if Philadelphia could win a championship with him at point guard.
But less than 24 hours later, Rivers said he remained “positive in Ben.”
“I’m very bullish on Ben still,” he said.
“Sometimes you have to go through stuff to see it and be honest with it.
“There’s areas that he can fix quickly in my opinion and get better, that can take him to another level.
“After being here for a year, I really do believe we’ve identified what and how, and now we have to do the do part.
“It’s not going to be an easy job. But it’s definitely a job that Ben can do.”
Teammate Joel Embiid was also critical of Simmons’ passive play immediately post-game, the conversation quickly turning to how the pair can return on the same court next season.
The 25-year-old has $140.4 million remaining over the final four years of his existing contract, leaving the 76ers with a tough sell ahead of them if they wish to pursue a trade.
“The first thing I’m going to do is clear my mind and get my mental right,” Simmons said.
“You got to be mentally tough. You can’t take games for granted. Especially in the play-offs. Every game matters. Every possession matters.”
– with Reuters