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July 18, 2022

Sixers' preseason schedule features matchup with Ben Simmons, Nets

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Ben-Simmons-Nets-return_022822_USAT Brad Penner/USA Today Sports

Ben Simmons could be out for a few more weeks, reports say.

The Sixers' full preseason schedule has yet to be revealed, but there will be at least one high-profile matchup featuring Ben Simmons, provided the Brooklyn Nets don't dismantle the roster between now and October 3rd.

According to a press release from the Nets released on Monday morning, Brooklyn will open their preseason against the Sixers at home, providing the (potential) stage for Simmons' return to the court after an extended absence.

As is the case every year for every team, whether any of the major players suit up for this one is a mystery. Philadelphia opened their preseason in Toronto last season without the services of Joel Embiid or Tobias Harris (and Simmons, naturally), and even when stars suit up for these games, they're typically only getting a few shorter shifts in before turning things over to the backups and camp players for the second half. It would not be a shocker if we arrive to October 3rd and nobody interesting is available to play.

That said, what a fascinating game to start the preseason if things continue on their current path.

  1. Simmons' first game played against the Sixers since the messy split last season
  2. James Harden getting an early opportunity to show off his summer work against a team he forced his way off of
  3. Assuming he's still there, lingering Kevin Durant drama
  4. An early preview of Philadelphia's new-look lineup
  5. Kyrie Irving probably doing something off-the-wall

Based on how many Sixers fans are actively rooting for the team to trade for Kevin Durant — which I'll remind again is basically impossible unless Sean Marks suffers some sort of severe concussion — I'm sure many of you would be happy to see Durant go to anywhere else but a team within their division. But it would be great fodder for discussion if these teams stay mostly intact over the next few years to build an actual rivalry between franchises that rarely even have to think about one another. There was and is some obvious bad blood here, and that will only get worse if they play a bunch of competitive games in the years to come.

(They didn't get off to a great start on that front, obviously, with Brooklyn beating Philadelphia down in Simmons' much-anticipated return to Philly. Maybe he'll show up in a basketball jersey to the next game there.)

As a result of the Durant sweepstakes, there's also some doubt about whether Simmons will stick around on this roster. The Nets have not indicated they want to move him, but due to CBA machinations, many of the most desirable players they could trade Durant for are off of the table as long as Simmons is on the roster. A team can have two players on designated rookie extensions (a five-year max) on the same roster, but they cannot both be players who were acquired by trade. That rules out players like Bam Adebayo and Donovan Mitchell as players who could be exchanged in a package to acquire Durant unless the Nets move Simmons to set up such a move.

As I'm sure many people in the area have said over the last five months or so, that's somebody else's problem to deal with now. All you have to decide is whether you feel inspired to take Amtrak up to NYC in order to express yourself to Simmons in person. If not, he'll be back in Philadelphia for a regular season meeting soon enough.


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