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Rumor: Agent Rich Paul won’t let injured Ben Simmons play for 76ers this year

Ben Simmons reportedly wanted the Lakers to draft him. The 76ers selected him with the No. 1 pick anyway – the right move, because they were positioned to force his hand.

But what if Simmons balks at playing this season? How much pressure will Philadelphia apply this time?

Simmons is expected to miss three months after breaking his foot, and 76ers say they’ll be patient. Perhaps, Simmons and his agent (Rich Paul) will test the line of that patience.

Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News on 97.5 The Fanatic:

I just got off the phone with somebody who I really trust in the NBA, and he’s like there’s no way his agent is going to let him play this year. That’s an injury that you don’t mess around with, and he thinks he’s going to keep him off his feet all year.

On one hand, the 76ers can withstand losing Simmons for the year, because they’ll stink regardless. This would at least improve their lottery position.

On the other hand, Simmons is the preeminent source of optimism as the team tries to shake its losing reputation. Philadelphia wants its fans to see him on the court.

The long-term concerns are much greater. There were already major questions about Simmons’ attitude after he dogged it at LSU. Yes, Simmons was stuck playing for a mediocre team at a below-market rate. But that also applies to him on the 76ers.

Paul’s job is to look out for Simmons’ best interests, and that might be the case here. There’s no sense risking repeated injury until Simmons foot is completely healed. But Simmons also needs the proper mental approach going forward, and sitting out once healthy could stifle that.