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Sixers coach Rivers wants Simmons to stay

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In this photo taken on October 5, 2018, Ben Simmons (centre) of the Philadelphia 76ers goes up for the ball during the preseason NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Shanghai. STR/AFP

Sixers coach Rivers wants Simmons to stay

Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers confirmed Wednesday that unsettled guard Ben Simmons had requested a move from the club – but insisted the Sixers want the Australian star to remain with the franchise.

Reports on Tuesday said Simmons had informed the Sixers that he planned to effectively go on strike by refusing to turn up for pre-season training unless he was granted a move.

Sixers coach Rivers confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday that Simmons had requested a trade during a meeting in August.

“It was a good conversation,” Rivers said. “He gave his reasons which we obviously didn’t agree with.”

However Rivers maintains the Sixers want to persuade the 25-year-old former No.1 draft pick that he remained part of the team’s plans.

“In sports there’s been so many times this has happened that hasn’t been reported, and the guy comes back,” Rivers said.

“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. So it’s in our hands and we want him back.”

Simmons’ future in Philadelphia has been the subject of speculation since the team lost a decisive Game 7 to Atlanta in last season’s playoffs, with Simmons’s offensive output shrivelling in the crucial final quarter.

That led to Rivers questioning whether Simmons could be a championship-winning point guard.

Rivers suggested on Wednesday however that the questions over Simmons’ offensive output in pressure situations were over-stated.

“We’re not going to give up on Ben,” Rivers said. “I miss him, I’ve always defended him. I just love how he plays and a lot of things that he does for the team.

“Unfortunately we’ve focused so much on his offense and we don’t focus on a lot of other things he does. We were one game away from the Eastern finals last year. No-one picked us to be where we were at.”

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