CAMDEN, N.J. — Ben Simmons didn't mince words when expressing his views about President Trump.
In an interview with FOX Sports Australia this week, Simmons stated, "If we were in Australia right now, a lot of people would call him a d---head, and that's how I personally feel."
On Wednesday, the Sixers' 21-year-old rookie explained what he would like people to take from his comments.
"I think everybody deserves respect, no matter what they do, who they are, how much they make," Simmons said. "You have young kids who look up to, who want to be the president one day and want to do great things, so you have to have somebody that motivates them and is the right leader. So for me growing up, I was able to witness certain presidents. But being from Australia, it's a whole different system.
"I believe there should be somebody who can motivate and push kids and push them toward their goals and dreams and whatever they want to do in them. I felt a certain way but I think the time will come when it's supposed to happen."
Simmons is not the only Sixer who has been vocal about his displeasure with the current state of politics.
On media day Monday, JJ Redick said, "I'm about as anti-Trump as you can get and I've been that way since the election."
"I think what he's done in dividing us and his narrow-minded views are obviously not a good thing for the country," Jerryd Bayless added.
Well, you can’t say the Sixers aren’t aiming high.
According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, the Sixers “have been rebuffed in their attempt to hire away Houston's Daryl Morey to take over as their new general manager.” Stein added that the team had great interest in Morey, but he couldn’t be lured away from the Rockets.
Morey, who has served as the Rockets’ general manager since 2007, was named the NBA’s Executive of the Year after Houston secured the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference with a franchise-best 65-17 record during the 2017-18 regular season.
Morey obviously fits the Sixers from a surface standpoint with his analytics background, commitment to building a pace-and-space roster and desire to chase stars. However, what makes the Sixers’ desire in him really interesting is that Morey is the mentor of former Sixers front office executive Sam Hinkie.
Bryan Colangelo, the man who replaced Hinkie in the Sixers’ front office, resigned in June after a scandal involving multiple secret Twitter accounts rocked the franchise. Head coach Brett Brown took over as interim general manager following Colangelo's resignation.
The Sixers have been patient throughout their search as managing owner Josh Harris recently said there is no timetable to select a candidate.
“We’re just getting focused on it now, given everything with free agency and the draft, and also the other GMs are in the same place. We’re looking for the right person,” Harris told NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Amy Fadool last week (see story). “One of the things that Bryan Colangelo did really well was we built a great staff, whether it be (vice president of basketball operations and chief of staff) Ned Cohen or (vice president of analytics and strategy) Alex Rucker or (vice president of player personnel) Marc Eversley or (Delaware Blue Coats general manger) Elton Brand, we have a lot of great people. It’s very consensus-oriented, there’s a lot of people in the dialogue, and we want to make sure we find the right fit for that.
“It’s not going to be easy. My guess is it’s going to take awhile. And we’re obviously focused on doing it as quickly as possible, but at the same time I don’t want to set unrealistic expectations — it could take a little while. So we’re just starting that.”
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The band is back together.
The Sixers are still making their offseason moves official, which is what happened on Monday when the team officially announced a one-year deal to bring back Amir Johnson. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it is reportedly worth the veteran’s minimum, which would be $2.39 million for the center.
“Our experience with Amir last year confirms to us, on so many levels, that he is a perfect fit for our young and developing team,” Brett Brown said in a statement. “His work ethic, leadership and buy-in to team-first basketball all comes to mind when I think of his value to our ball club and his acceptance of a backup role to All-Star Joel Embiid is priceless. We are thrilled to have Amir and his family back in our program and I know this feeling is a shared by all of his teammates.”
Johnson, the last player drafted into the NBA straight from high school, spent his 13th professional season with the Sixers in 2017-18. The 31-year-old averaged 4.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 15.8 minutes a night.
However, it was the little things Johnson did that really added up for the Sixers. The big man had the highest aggregate hustle score, which measures screen assists, deflections, loose balls recovered, charges drawn and contested shots per contest, to win the league’s second-ever Hustle Award.
“This is definitely an honor,” Johnson said after receiving the award. “I pride myself on doing the little things on the court and I just want to say thank you to my teammates and coaches. This award means a lot.”
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