Australian NBA star Ben Simmons reportedly won’t return to Philadelphia 76ers training camp

Dan GelstonAAP
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Ben Simmons will not report to Philadelphia 76ers’ training camp next week and prefers to continue his NBA career with another team, a person with direct knowledge of the player’s plans told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because discussions of Simmons’ plans with the franchise have been private.

Simmons said after last season, “I love being in Philly.”

Not anymore.

Simmons, the No.1 pick of the 2016 draft, is a three-time All-Star who had been paired with Joel Embiid as the franchise cornerstones as the Sixers chase their first NBA championship since 1983.

Simmons, though, took the brunt of the blame for the top-seeded Sixers’ second-round exit in last season’s playoffs.

He shot 34 per cent from the free-throw line in the post-season and was reluctant to attempt a shot from anywhere on the floor late in games.

That led to him spending critical minutes on the bench.

Simmons missed a stunning 10 free throws in Game 5 against the Atlanta Hawks as the Sixers blew a 26-point lead in a loss.

His defining moment, though, was in the Game 7 loss at home.

With a chance to tie the game late in the fourth quarter, Simmons surrendered the opportunity to play post-season hero and passed on an open look at the rim because he was afraid he would get fouled.

Simmons did not attempt a shot in the fourth quarter in Game 2 against the Hawks. He did the same in Games 4 through 7 - going 0 for 0 in the final period.

Not one single shot in the fourth quarter over five play-off games.

Simmons just finished the first year of a $177 million ($A245m) max deal. He has averaged 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists over four seasons with the Sixers.

Simmons shot 25 for 73 (34 per cent) from the line in the playoffs and missed 27 alone in the second round against Atlanta.

He is a 5-for-34 career NBA 3-point shooter.

The 76ers are scheduled to have media day on Monday, with training camp opening the next day at their complex in Camden, New Jersey.

The Sixers can let Simmons sit and fine or suspend him, or withhold his pay while they canvas the trade market looking for a quality offer - complete with draft picks - for the disgruntled star.

One thing is clear: The issue is unlikely to be settled by the start of the season.

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