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Embiid on (very slim) chance Simmons could return to 76ers: “I’m fine with whatever”

76ers guard Ben Simmons

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 27: Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers warms up prior to the game against the LA Clippers on March 27, 2021 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Jim Poorten/NBAE via Getty Images)

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It appears highly unlikely Ben Simmons will be traded before Thursday’s deadline, with multiple reports saying the 76ers are not backing off their high asking price and the Nets not willing to trade James Harden. Never say never, things can shift and lower-level people are talking, but the real deal makers are nowhere close to getting it done.

That led to this interesting note from Jake Fischer at Bleacher Report: There are some people around Ben Simmons pushing him to return to the 76ers again if he is not traded. Simmons has refused to play for the team so far and it seems unlikely that will change, but at least some close to the former All-Star suggesting it.

Joel Embiid said on the Mike Missanelli Show on The Fanatic that he would be open to it because it makes the 76ers better.

“I’m trying to win a championship. Whatever that’s going to help me achieve that, I’m fine with whatever. I’ve always said, obviously, we’re a better team with him on the floor. I’m sure a lot of people agree, even if they don’t want to agree, it doesn’t matter, we still are a better team with him on the floor... You know what? I have no pride. My goal is to win a championship, I would be fine with it... I don’t know about how everybody else feels, but to me, I’m trying to win a championship, and whatever it takes to accomplish that, I’m fine with that.”

Embiid has said this before.

Embiid may be open to it, maybe his teammates would as well, but Philadelphia fans would let Simmons have it if he returned — and Simmons knows it. It would be a difficult and awkward reunion. That said, a return and playing through that would show a mental toughness that some have questioned with Simmons.

Embiid is right, it would help the 76ers on the court — Simmons is an elite defender and passer who has valuable skills.

More importantly to Simmons, a return would help his trade value. Part of the challenge now is that the last memory of him playing is when he was deep inside his own head and passing up dunks against the Hawks. Simmons could return and remind people he’s an All-Star and a player who finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting a season ago. He could change his perception, at least somewhat.

However, don’t bet on it. If Simmons is not traded, the fines will keep piling up (and there will be an ugly arbitration hearing about if he can be docked pay for not being mentally able to play) and Simmons almost certainly would miss an entire season.