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Embiid pushes back on Ben Simmons drama: ‘I love playing with Ben’

Ben Simmons power forward

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 18: Ben Simmons #25 and Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers walk off the court during a time out in the second half against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on January 18, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)

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Ben Simmons wants a trade out of Philadelphia, may not report to training camp, and is reportedly frustrated with Doc Rivers’ comments that he isn’t sure Simmons can be the point guard on a championship team. (To be fair to Rivers, the comment was made after an emotional elimination from the playoffs at the hands of the Hawks, and do any of us know if Simmons can be the point guard on a championship team?)

Other reports have circulated about a growing rift between Simmons and star center Joel Embiid. Wednesday, Embiid took to Twitter to shoot those reports down.

In the interest of fairness: Jeff Zillgitt of the USA Today (who made the report about a 76ers rift) is an outstanding, experienced reporter who does not make things up. Also, the buzz about the 76ers locker room not exactly being on the same page (to put it kindly) is something that has bounced around league circles for a while.

Embiid unquestionably enjoys playing with Simmons because Simmons is an elite passer who can find him in transition, get the ball to him in the right spots on the block, and generally make Embiid’s life easier. Simmons is an All-Star player and one of the best on-ball defenders in the NBA; he makes the 76ers better.

Simmons just lacks one critical NBA skill, and that makes it questionable how well he fits with Embiid once the 76ers get deep into the playoffs against elite teams. Which is at the heart of why the trade talk started in the first place (and maybe is at the heart of Embiid’s last comment about using criticism as fuel to get better at a weakness).

But it’s wise for Embiid to show he has Simmons’ back — despite what Simmons wants the two may be in training camp together. Better to start rebuilding those bridges now.