The NBA championship-chasing Los Angeles Clippers are unsure when Kawhi Leonard will return from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.

Tyronn Lue's Clippers will head into the 2021-22 season without superstar Leonard, who is expected to miss much of the campaign as he recovers from a partially torn ACL in his right knee.

Leonard underwent knee surgery after suffering the serious injury during the 2020-21 playoffs – the Clippers progressed to their first Western Conference Finals before falling to the Phoenix Suns.

Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank fielded questions on two-time NBA champion Leonard on Friday as the team gear up for the new season.

"Oh, we don't even broach that," Frank said when asked if he expects Leonard to play this season.

"I think at this point, it's just no one knows when you're dealing with a recovery from an ACL [injury], the time frame.

"Even just to save you guys [from asking] throughout the year, is no one knows. You just attack it day by day, he has a very detailed plan with a great group and we'll just let his body and the doctors tell us when it's the right time."

A five-time All-Star, Leonard has averaged 26.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.0 assists since joining the Clippers in 2019, arriving at the franchise after an impressive title-winning campaign with the Toronto Raptors.

The Clippers went 36-16 when Leonard was active in the regular season last term, outscoring their opponents by 9.0 points per outing. In the 20 games he missed, however, their record was 11-9 and they were outscored by 1.1 points on average.

In the playoffs, the Clippers have lost in the Conference semi-finals and Conference Finals respectively in the past two seasons.

The NBA fined Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob $50,000 for violating the team's anti-tampering rule following his comments about Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons.

Simmons' future is dominating headlines after 76ers head coach Doc Rivers confirmed on Wednesday that the three-time All-Star wants to leave Philadelphia.

The Warriors have emerged as a possible destination for Simmons since his forgettable 2020-21 playoff campaign with the 76ers.

But Lacob cast doubt over a Simmons trade during an interview, prompting a sanction from the NBA.

"In some ways, it doesn't really fit what we're doing," Lacob told the San Francisco Chronicle.

"He makes a lot of money. And, can he finish games? I don't know. He's very talented. The problem is: We have Draymond [Green].

"Draymond and him are very similar in the sense that neither one really shoots and they do a lot of the playmaking. That's one issue. The salary structure is another."

 

Rivers, midweek, told ESPN the 76ers will try to convince Simmons to stay with the franchise amid trade talk.

Simmons and his shooting problems were laid bare during the 2021 postseason with the top-seeded 76ers.

Former number one draft pick Simmons had no fourth-quarter field-goal attempts in his last four games of the playoffs last season. He is the only NBA player in the last 20 seasons to have four consecutive postseason games with no field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter during a season in which he was an All-Star.

Simmons averaged just 10.1 field-goal attempts in 2020-21 – a career low, which dropped to 7.9 in the playoffs. It is the same story with his scoring as it dropped to a career worst 14.3 points per game and 11.9 in the postseason – both career lows.

Then there is Simmons and free throws. He was exposed by rival teams as they regularly sent him to the line, with the Melbourne-born guard making just 25 of 73 shots in the 2020-21 playoffs. His 34.2 free-throw percentage is the lowest ever in a single postseason.

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers said the championship contenders will try to convince Ben Simmons to stay after confirming the disgruntled All-Star wants to leave the NBA franchise.

Rivers was speaking on Wednesday, in response to reports Simmons told the 76ers he will not attend training camp next week and does not plan to play for the team again.

It comes after Simmons' forgettable playoff campaign with the 76ers last season – the 25-year-old Australian failed to impress in the shock Eastern Conference semi-final loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Amid reported interest from the likes of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers, Rivers discussed Simmons' future in Philadelphia.

"I mean it was a good conversation," Rivers told ESPN when asked if Simmons had made it known that he wanted out of Philadelphia.

"He gave his reasons, which we obviously didn't agree with. But you know, in sports, there's been so many times this has happened that hasn't been reported and the guy comes back.

"Listen, we're going to go through it, we're going to always do what's best for the team, but I can tell you up front, we would love to get Ben back.

"And if we can, we're going to try to do that. You know, Ben has a long contract. It's in our hands and we want him back."

 

A three-time All-Star and elite defender, Simmons and his shooting problems were laid bare during the 2021 postseason with the top-seeded 76ers.

Former number one draft pick Simmons had no fourth-quarter field-goal attempts in his last four games of the playoffs last season. He is the only NBA player in the last 20 seasons to have four consecutive postseason games with no field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter during a season in which he was an All-Star.

Simmons averaged just 10.1 field-goal attempts in 2020-21 – a career low, which dropped to 7.9 in the playoffs. It is the same story with his scoring as it dropped to a career worst 14.3 points per game and 11.9 in the postseason – both career lows.

Then there is Simmons and free throws. He was exposed by rival teams as they regularly sent him to the line, with the Melbourne-born guard making just 25 of 73 shots in the 2020-21 playoffs. His 34.2 free-throw percentage is the lowest ever in a single postseason.

Rivers also tried to clarify comments he made following Philadelphia's elimination at the hands of the Hawks in June.

After the 76ers' failed run at a first NBA title since 1983, Rivers was asked if he thought Simmons could be a guard on a championship team, and he replied: "I don't know the answer to that right now."

On Wednesday, Rivers said: "I want to correct that. I would love you guys to play what I said, because, and I've told you this before Stephen A. [Smith], I never said what was reported.

"The question was asked about Ben, it was the first question after we just lost Game 7, my answer was, 'I'm not answering any of that stuff right now guys, I don't even know how to answer that.' That had nothing to do what's about Ben, I was basically just saying, 'I'm not answering that crap, those questions.'

"It was being portrayed that I was out there saying I don't think we can win with Ben, and I do. I told Ben that the next day. What really disappointed me was the next day I went on and said, 'Guys, y'all knew exactly what I was talking about,' and no one heard it.

"They just kept running their narrative. I've been in sports a long time, and I'm not misrepresented very often, but in that case, I was. But it is what it is. Ben knows, [agent] Rich [Paul] knows, and I know."

Karl-Anthony Towns posted a single-word explicit tweet apparently in response to the Minnesota Timberwolves' decision to fire Gersson Rosas.

The Timberwolves parted company with Rosas on Wednesday after just over two years with the NBA team as president of basketball operations.

Reports said Rosas was holding meetings within the organisation as recently as Wednesday morning, meaning his dismissal prompted shock throughout the team – including from two-time All-Star Towns.

Owner Glen Taylor said: "As an organisation, we remain committed to building a winning team that our fans and city can be proud of."

Taylor is in the process of selling the team, with Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore set to arrive.

The Timberwolves have played only one postseason series since 2004 and showed few signs of progress on the court with Rosas at the helm.

As well as Towns, Minnesota have 2020 first overall pick Anthony Edwards on their roster, but a big front office restructure comes as a surprise as training camp approaches.

Ben Simmons has no future with the Philadelphia 76ers, according to reports on Tuesday, putting the team in a very tricky position.

The 76ers were said to be in talks to trade Simmons for James Harden last season, but the Brooklyn Nets swooped in to do a deal with the Houston Rockets instead.

Simmons instead remained in Philly but again failed to impress as their playoff run ended with defeat to the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

The point forward is an outstanding defender, making the All-Defensive First Team in each of the past two years, but his work on the other end of the floor has been a source of constant criticism.

In four seasons with the Sixers, Simmons has averaged 15.9 points per game in the regular season, yet he has attempted only 34 shots from three-point range and made just 59.7 per cent from the foul line.

The first overall pick in 2016, Simmons still has admirers around the league but appears to be gambling someone will make a big offer.

ESPN said Simmons will not report for training camp next week and does not plan to play for the 76ers again, having communicated this message to the team last month.

But the 76ers have not yet found an attractive trade, and the issue for both parties is Simmons' stock has never been lower.

Not only does the player's stance give his team less leverage, but he is coming off a woeful postseason showing that could understandably see suitors have second thoughts.

Across Games 5, 6 and 7 against the Hawks, Simmons averaged 6.3 points from 4.7 field goal attempts.

His 34.2 per cent free-throw shooting throughout the playoffs was by far the worst rate of any player with 10 attempts or more, while he took just one shot in clutch situations.

The 76ers are likely to have to lower their expectations considerably in the trade market, as they attempt to help Joel Embiid heading into 2021-22.

Klay Thompson is making "good progress" to return in the new NBA season while James Wiseman will miss pre-season according to the Golden State Warriors.

The franchise provided an injury update on the pair on Monday, ahead of the new season due to commence on October 19.

Five-time NBA All-Star Thompson has missed the past two seasons due to a torn left anterior cruciate ligament and a torn right Achilles.

Wiseman, who went pick two in last year's NBA Draft, underwent surgery on a meniscus tear in April.

"Thompson… has made good progress during his rehabilitation over the course of the summer and is on pace to return for the 2021-22 season," the Warriors update said.

"The exact time for his return this season will be based on his continued progress.

"Thompson, who underwent surgery on his right Achilles on November 25, 2020, is expected to participate in various controlled drills during training camp. His return to full practices will be determined at a later date."

The Warriors did not put a return date on Wiseman either, but confirmed he would begin full jumping six months after surgery, being October 15, only four days before the new season starts.

Wiseman will join the team in their training camp, but the timeframe means he has been effectively ruled out of playing in pre-season.

"The exact time for his return this season will be based on his continued progress," the update said. "He was expected—and is still expected—to begin full jumping six (6) months from the date of surgery, which would be October 15.

"Wiseman is expected to participate in individual shooting and other individual on-court activities during training camp. His return to full practices will be determined at a later date (after October 15)."

The Warriors are scheduled to start the 2021-22 NBA season against the Los Angeles Lakers on October 19.

Golden State last season lost to the Lakers in the Western Conference play-in tournament, failing to reach the playoffs for the second straight campaign in Thompson's absence.

The Warriors stormed back into playoffs contention with a strong second half in 2020-21, finishing 39-33, after ending the 2019-20 season last with a 15-50 record.

The Los Angeles Clippers remain "optimistic" about their chances in 2021-22 despite Kawhi Leonard's injury after the NBA franchise unveiled the team's new arena.

Leonard signed a four-year contract extension with the Clippers in the offseason, but the two-time champion is expected to miss much of the 2021-22 campaign as he recovers from a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee.

It is a blow for the Clippers on the back of their first trip to the Western Conference Final last season, but owner Steve Ballmer is not prepared to take a backward step in Leonard's absence.

"Every year I want to win," Ballmer told ESPN. "Some people will talk about 'We're taking a step back' or 'We got an injured year.' No.

"Our fans can count on the fact that we are going to try to win as many ballgames as we can every year. Now, we took a little setback.

"We got to get Kawhi healthy. And when he's back, we're back at full strength."

Leonard suffered a serious knee injury during the 2020-21 playoffs, going down in the Western Conference Finals. Without him, the Clippers went on to lose the series 4-2 to the Phoenix Suns.

A five-time All-Star, Leonard has averaged 26.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.0 assists since joining the Clippers in 2019, arriving at the franchise after an impressive title-winning campaign with the Toronto Raptors.

The Clippers went 36-16 when Leonard was active in the regular season last term, outscoring their opponents by 9.0 points per outing. In the 20 games he missed, however, their record was 11-9 and they were outscored by 1.1 points on average.

In the playoffs, the Clippers have lost in the Conference semi-finals and Conference Finals respectively in the past two seasons.

"It was painful," Ballmer said. "Painful for Kawhi, painful for our team, painful for me and, most importantly, painful for our fans. But yeah, we gave it a go. We gave it a good go. We managed to push past Utah, even without Kawhi.

"I was proud of our guys. We were within a whisker or two of taking care of business in the Western Conference Finals, even without Kawhi. We'll see when we get him back, but we basically have most of the same team back for next year. ... I remain optimistic."

Ballmer was speaking as the Clippers introduced their future home – Intuit Dome – which is scheduled to open ahead of the 2024-25 season as they move away from Staples Center, where the Los Angeles Lakers and NHL franchise the Los Angeles Kings also play.

"I've never been in a place where you had two teams in a town," Ballmer said. "I grew up in Detroit. Everybody's a Pistons fan. And I think for enough years the Clippers were bad enough, everybody could just ignore the Clippers.

"We're good now, and we're going to be good year in and year out. We're going to build our own building, more of our own identity, more of our own personality. And I think some of the fans on the other side, if you will, it's like, 'What? You dare to question our supremacy?' No, we do.

"There's 30 teams in the league. There's 29 others. And we got one that happens to be based in L.A. And we got our fans. We use our expression, 'LA Our Way.' And we're building our own presence, identity. And if the other guys feel a little threatened -- the other guys' fans, I mean; the players are actually a little different deal -- but if they feel a little threatened, that's OK. It means we're doing good."

LeBron James and the possibility of the Los Angeles Lakers superstar becoming the NBA's all-time scoring leader excites current recordholder Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Abdul-Jabbar sits atop the throne for most points in the NBA with 38,387 following a Hall of Fame career that featured six championships, six MVP awards and 19 All-Star selections among other honours during his time with the Milwaukee Bucks and Lakers.

James (35,367) is third on the all-time list entering his 19th season, behind Karl Malone (36,928) and Abdul-Jabbar – the four-time champion and four-time MVP still needs 3,020 points to break the record.

Abdul-Jabbar, who spent 14 years with the Lakers from 1975 to 1989 before returning as an assistant coach between 2005 and 2011, was asked about James' pursuit of history.

"I'm excited to see it happen," Abdul-Jabbar, 74, told Marc Stein in his substack newsletter. "I don't see records as personal accomplishments, but more as human achievements.

"If one person can do something that's never been done, that means we all have a shot at doing it. It's a source of hope and inspiration.

"Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile back in 1954. Since then, not only have 1,400 runners beaten that time, but the new record is 17 seconds less.

"We all win when a record is broken and if LeBron breaks mine, I will be right there to cheer him on."

James and the Lakers were unable to defend their NBA title in 2020-21 as they crashed out in the first round of the playoffs.

The 36-year-old James averaged 25.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game last season.

James' field-goal (51.3) and three-point (36.5) percentages were his best since 2017-18.

Denver Nuggets star Aaron Gordon has agreed a four-year, $92million contract extension with the NBA franchise.

Gordon's agent Calvin Andrews confirmed the lucrative new deal to the Undefeated on Tuesday.

The contract reportedly includes a player option for the fourth year in 2025-26, with the Nuggets already locking up MVP Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray to new contracts.

Gordon arrived in Denver in March after being dealt to the Nuggets from the struggling Orlando Magic.

The 25-year-old forward averaged 12.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists overall last season, spread across 25 games with the Nuggets and 25 for the Magic.

Gordon's 46.3 field-goal percentage was his best since the 2015-16 campaign.

In the playoffs, Gordon averaged 11.1 points and 5.4 rebounds as the Nuggets were eventually swept by the Phoenix Suns in the second round.

Team USA won a stunning Paralympics men's wheelchair basketball gold medal on the final day of Tokyo 2020, providing a sting in the tail to the tournament's "Cinderella story".

Steve Serio scored 28 points and added nine assists as the United States beat hosts Japan 64-60 at the Ariake Arena, overcoming a 56-51 deficit with a large surge.

It was an agonising end to a stunning run from Japan, who had beaten Australia and Great Britain on the way to the final, their first at Paralympics level.

For the Americans, it means they have won men's wheelchair basketball gold medals at seven editions of the Paralympics.

Serio said: "Japan was the Cinderella story of this tournament, but you couldn't ask for a more storybook ending for us. We didn't get the start we wanted, but we definitely got the finish we wanted."

Japan's silver was their first medal in men's wheelchair basketball, with Hiroaki Kozai leading them with 18 points and Renshi Chokai adding eight points and a remarkable 18 rebounds.

Matt Scott, part of that triumphant basketball team, then carried the US flag at the closing ceremony, as Tokyo's tenure as hosts of the Olympics and Paralympics came to an end.

Amid the strain of staging a global event during the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan pulled off the feat and handed the baton to Paris for the 2024 Games, signing off with a ceremony that was highlighted by nods to karaoke and video game culture and included a moving rendition of the Louis Armstrong classic What A Wonderful World.

China finished top of the medals table, with 96 golds in a total of 207 medals, with Great Britain second with 41 golds among 124 medals, and the USA third, landing 37 golds and 104 medals in all.

Hosts Japan ranked 11th, with 13 gold medals, 15 silver and 23 bronze, for a total of 51 medals.

LaMarcus Aldridge will make a dramatic comeback to the NBA after doctors cleared him to rejoin the Brooklyn Nets, it was revealed on Friday.

Seven-time All-Star Aldridge announced his immediate retirement in April after experiencing a major health scare.

Aldridge revealed that he played against the Los Angeles Lakers while dealing with an irregular heartbeat – an issue that became worse following the 126-101 defeat for the Nets.

Now he is reported to have agreed a one-year deal worth $2.6million, with the 36-year-old eager to get back into action.

In a statement to ESPN, Aldridge said: "I retired in April based on what I believed was the wisest precautionary decision for my personal health at the time, but further testing and evaluation by several top physicians has convinced the doctors, myself and the Nets that I'm fully cleared and able to return to the rigours of the NBA.

"I loved my brief time with Brooklyn and am excited to rejoin the team in pursuit of a championship."

There was no immediate comment from the Nets, who earlier in the day requested waivers on forward Alize Johnson.

The about-turn in Aldridge's plans was not quite as surprising as his initial announcement that his career was over, with recent reports having suggested it was in the offing.

Aldridge only joined the Nets at the end of March as a free agent, averaging 12.8 points in five games after agreeing a contract buyout with the San Antonio Spurs.

He said at the time of his retirement that, despite doctors dealing effectively with his immediate health concern, the aftermath of the Lakers game "was still one of the scariest things I've experienced".

He added, back in April: "For 15 years, I've put basketball first, and now it is time to put my health and family first."

Aldridge, drafted second in the 2006 draft by the Chicago Bulls, was swiftly traded to the Portland Trail Blazers and had nine seasons in Oregon before moving on to San Antonio.

He has career per-game averages of 19.4 points and 8.2 rebounds, with a game high of 56 points, hitting 352 double-doubles.

He stands 49 points short of reaching 20,000, an early target for when he gets back on the court.

The Brooklyn Nets have added another All-Star to the mix, agreeing to a deal with veteran forward Paul Millsap. 

Millsap's agent DeAngelo Simmons confirmed the move to The Athletic and other outlets, and the player posted an image of himself in a Brooklyn uniform on his Instagram page on Thursday. 

The 36-year-old Millsap is entering his 16th NBA season, spending the first seven years of his career with the Utah Jazz before four seasons each with the Atlanta Hawks and the Denver Nuggets.

His best years came in Atlanta, where he made the All-Star team all four seasons. 

Millsap's playing time steadily diminished in Denver last season as he lost his starting job and ended up averaging just 20.8 minutes and 9.0 points per game – his lowest since his second year in the league. 

At this stage of his career, Millsap will be a complementary player on a loaded Brooklyn team that also features Kevin Durant, James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Blake Griffin. 

He effectively steps into the role vacated by fellow veteran Jeff Green, who averaged 11 points in 27 minutes for Brooklyn last season before signing a two-year deal with the Nuggets last month. 

Joining the star-studded Nets squad gives Millsap a strong chance to make the NBA Finals for the first time in his career. He has been on teams that reached the conference finals three times, but his team never won more than one game in any of those series. 

Potentially finishing his career with a contender was a priority for Millsap, as The Athletic reports he also considered the Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors and Chicago Bulls. 

Joel Embiid has taken to social media to deny a reported rift between him and Philadelphia 76ers team-mate Ben Simmons who has been linked with a trade away from the franchise.

The 76ers topped the Eastern Conference with a 49-23 record across the 2020-21 season but crashed out of the playoffs to the Atlanta Hawks 4-3 in the Conference semi-finals.

Simmons was widely criticized for his role in the 76ers' early demise, struggling from the free-throw line in the playoffs, leading to speculation about his future.

That speculation has intensified in the off-season, with reports of a rift between Embiid and Simmons suggesting that the franchise needed to let one depart.

The 2021 MVP runner-up vehemently denied those rift reports, insisting he loves playing with the Australian former number one NBA Draft pick.

"Stop using my name to push people’s agendas," Embiid tweeted. "I love and hate drama. I love playing with Ben. Stats don’t lie.

"He’s an amazing player and we all didn’t get the job done. It’s on me personally. I hope everyone is back cuz we know we’re good enough to win."

Embiid's tweet was in relation to a report from USA Today that the 'rift had been escalating'.

He added: "From my own experience, y’all have no idea how much this media makes up stuff for followers and shame on you for believing them."

The 27-year-old Cameroonian also tweeted about his displeasure at the 76ers' fans treatment of Simmons, who skipped the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to continue to develop his game this off-season.

"I haven’t forgotten but 2 years ago, I got booed, people in Philly wanted me to be traded. I even shushed them," Embiid tweeted.

"Only the real ones didn’t but I just put the work in that offseason to be better cuz I knew I wasn’t playing up to my potential. Philly fans, y’all also gotta be better.

"For clarity, I love the criticism, I love when I’m told I can’t do something. It makes me work harder to prove everyone wrong but not everyone is built like that."

Rajon Rondo said "wisdom" is key to winning an NBA championship after he joined a growing list of veterans on the Los Angeles Lakers' roster.

Rondo is back with the Lakers after spending last season split between the Atlanta Hawks and city rivals the Los Angeles Clippers.

A championship winner with the Lakers in 2019-20, Rondo was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies by the Clippers at the end of the 2020-21 campaign before agreeing a contract buyout and clearing waivers.

With Rondo (35) back at the Staples Center alongside Carmelo Anthony (37), LeBron James (36), Marc Gasol (36), Trevor Ariza (36) and Dwight Howard (35), the Lakers have the oldest team in the NBA this season.

The Lakers also boast former MVP Russell Westbrook (32) following his arrival from the Washington Wizards.

Amid criticism over the age of the team, Rondo told reporters on Tuesday: "Wisdom is definitely key to winning a championship.

"We have a lot of that, obviously, with the age and experience on the court. I'm most excited about not being the oldest guy on the team anymore.

"I'm actually about [fifth oldest] now, so that's a big step for me going from two months ago I was the oldest guy on the team and now I'm one of the young guys."

After ending their 10-year title drought in 2020, the Lakers struggled last season as James and Anthony Davis endured injury problems.

The Lakers finished with a 42-30 win-loss record and stumbled into the play-in tournament before losing to the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs.

Rondo added: "I'm looking forward to it, looking forward to the naysayers saying our age being a problem, but you don't have longevity in this league without discipline.

"We have guys that have the mileage, but there's a reason they're still playing in this league at this level for so many years. So I'm not worried about anything or the spectators saying age makes a difference.

"I think the mind is going to be a big key in why we win this year."

Danny Green believes the Philadelphia 76ers without Ben Simmons might cause defensive issues amid uncertainty over his future with the NBA franchise.

Simmons' future in Philadelphia is up in the air after struggling in the 76ers' shock Eastern Conference semi-final exit at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA playoffs.

The three-time All-Star – an elite defender whose shooting problems were laid bare during the postseason – has been at the centre of trade rumours involving the Minnesota Timberwolves, Golden State Warriors and the Portland Trail Blazers.

Portland are a team of particular interest, given reports the 76ers are eyeing their All-Star Damian Lillard.

Green, who signed a new deal to return to Philadelphia for the 2021-22 season, was asked what a Simmons-less 76ers would look like.

"That's going to be tough to say man because we don't know what we're going to get back for him," Green told Howard Beck on the Crossover podcast.

"We may get a point guard, we may get wings. That may change a lot: I might be playing with a different type of point guard, I might be playing with different types of wings, I might be coming off the bench. I don't know who we’re going to get."

Former number one draft pick Simmons had no fourth-quarter field-goal attempts in his last four games of the playoffs last season. He is the only NBA player in the last 20 seasons to have four consecutive postseason games with no field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter during a season in which he was an All-Star.

 

After four seasons in the league, there has been no improvement from the 24-year-old Simmons in one fundamental area – shooting.

An elite defender and creator, debate around Simmons centres on his offence or lack thereof, with the 76ers handicapped by his unwillingness to shoot.

Simmons' field-goal percentage has regressed, dropping from 58.0 in 2019-20 to 55.7 this season – he only managed worse in his 2017-18 rookie campaign (54.5).

He averaged just 10.1 field-goal attempts in 2020-21 – a career low, which dropped to 7.9 in the playoffs. It is the same story with his scoring as it dropped to a career worst 14.3 points per game and 11.9 in the postseason – both career lows.

Then there is Simmons and free throws. He was exposed by rival teams as they regularly sent him to the line, with the Melbourne-born guard making just 25 of 73 shots in the 2020-21 playoffs. His 34.2 free-throw percentage is the lowest ever in a single postseason.

Despite those liabilities, Green said losing Simmons would force some adjustments. 

"And also defensively, I probably become the primary defender," he said. "Not saying it's an issue or a problem for me, but we have one less wing defender with him.

"Now it's me and Matisse [Thybulle]. Not saying that the other guys don't play defence, but you talk about our main defenders. That was a big part of that and a big part of our defence. … Ben, you know, was DPOY [Defensive Player of the Year] for us this year. …

"We thought Ben was able to guard one through five and set the tone for us. If he's gone, that changes a lot not just offensively but defensively as well for me."

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