Unsettled Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons was hit with a one-game suspension by the team on Tuesday, ruling him out of the club’s season opener against New Orleans.
A Sixers statement said Simmons would miss Wednesday’s game against the Pelicans for “conduct detrimental to the team.”
US media reports said Simmons was suspended shortly after a bust-up with Sixers coach Doc Rivers, which ended with the Australian point guard being tossed from practice.
It marks the latest twist to the intrigue surrounding Simmons and his future in Philadelphia.
The 25-year-old — the No.1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft — informed the club in the summer that he wanted to leave, although he reported back for training last week.
Simmons’ future 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 Sixers coach Rivers publicly questioning whether Simmons could be a championship-winning point guard.
Tensions between Simmons and team-mate Joel Embiid have also emerged, with Embiid accusing the Australian of “disrespecting” his team-mates in remarks last month.
On Tuesday, a clearly unimpressed Embiid brushed off the latest controversy involving Simmons, insisting the rest of the Sixers roster were focused on preparing for the season ahead.
“At this point I don’t care about that man, honestly,” Embiid said of Simmons.
“He does whatever he wants. That’s not my job. I’m only focused on trying to make the team better, win some games, play hard every night, trying to lead the guys that we have here.
“I’m sure they feel the same way. Our chemistry has been excellent despite everything that’s been happening the last few months. So I don’t really care.”
Embiid declined to elaborate on the reasons for Simmons suspension, and added that he had little interest in trying to help the Australian reintegrate with the locker room.
“He got suspended for his conduct so I’ll let you guys read into that,” Embiid told reporters.
“I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t mind. At the end of the day our job is not to babysit somebody.
“We get paid to go on the court, work hard and try and win some games. We don’t get paid to babysit somebody. That’s not our job.”