Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons said he isn’t worried about his name coming up in trade rumors involving Houston Rockets star James Harden.
“No,” Simmons said after Tuesday’s practice. “I come in every day, take it a day at a time, ready to work. I’m with my teammates. … Every day I wake up, every time I got a Sixers uniform on, I’m representing the Sixers. So my mentality never changes.
“I’m here to win a championship. That goal is never gonna change. I know things are always going to be said in the media, and rumors and things like that, but my goal is to come in every day and get better and help the team that I’m on win a championship.”
The Sixers, along with the Brooklyn Nets, are among the teams that Harden is willing to be traded to, sources told ESPN. Daryl Morey — the man who brought Harden to Houston — is also now running the franchise after being hired as Philadelphia’s president of basketball operations last month.
After the team traded its two big additions from last offseason — guard Josh Richardson and center Al Horford — for Seth Curry and Danny Green, respectively, in an effort to balance the roster, Philadelphia hopes the mix will produce far better results than last year’s disappointing campaign.
New Sixers coach Doc Rivers said that while he understands why people are unwilling to believe things will be different this season, he’s optimistic that the combination of Simmons and Joel Embiid can be enough for a special team.
“First of all, I wouldn’t say anything to anyone,” Rivers said. “I think we have to believe it. And you have to feel special to be special.
“So I don’t think I need to make a forecast, or anything like that. I do believe that, though. And, I guess, to answer your question a little bit, we have Ben Simmons on our basketball team. And we have Joel Embiid on our basketball team. And right now, teams that have two NBA All-Stars, and All-Defensive players, tend to fare well.
“So I think we are special in that regard.”
Philadelphia opens its season at home against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday,
The offseason moves were all done to try to maximize the partnership of Simmons and Harden. During the preseason, the Sixers have repeatedly talked about the benefits that the extra space on the court by adding two more good 3-point shooters has provided, and Simmons said he’s excited to see what things will look like when Philadelphia begins its season at Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday night.
“Their games are completely different to the guys we have previously,” Simmons said of Curry and Green, when asked what will look different this season. “And I think the movement, the pace we’re gonna play with, and hopefully the execution, is gonna be a lot better.
“We lost a few guys who were great defenders but, defensively, I think we’re gonna be the same, if not better.
“But I think, overall, we got guys who will buy in. We got Danny Green, a great defender, Dwight [Howard], a lot of guys who have had that experience, played a high level, played championship basketball, who know what it takes to win.”