After An Offseason Of Drama, The NBA Returns Tuesday Night

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We’re back.

It feels like it was just yesterday that Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks were celebrating their first championship in a half-century, sending Chris Paul home empty-handed once again. 

Tuesday night, the 2021 NBA regular season tips off with two marquee matchups: the Brooklyn Nets travel to Milwaukee to take on the defending champion Bucks, and the LA Lakers welcome the Golden State Warriors to Staples Center. 

I love the short nature of the NBA offseason — especially this year with the 2020 regular season extending into July — but man, has it been a wild one. 

The offseason began with Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons clearly unhappy after a disastrous postseason, and his head coach questioning whether he could be the starting point guard on a championship team. In late August, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Simmons informed Philadelphia 76ers’ management that he did not intend to report to training camp and no longer wished to be part of the organization.

Simmons followed through on his threat, refusing to show up to training camp, accruing fines topping $1 million. 

As the fines continued to grow, Simmons showed up to Wells Fargo Arena during the Sixers preseason game last week, shocking the organization and fans alike. 

The questions remained: was Simmons reporting simply to avoid losing out on more money? Or was he prepared to play for Philadelphia while his trade demand lingered?

On Tuesday, we received our answer. 

Sixers head coach Doc Rivers booted Simmons from practice after he refused to participate in a defensive drill, and he’s now been suspended by the organization for the opening night game against the New Orleans Pelicans. 

“I just thought he was a distraction today,” Rivers said Tuesday after practice. “I didn’t think he wanted to do what everybody else was doing. It was early. It wasn’t a big deal. I just told him he should leave. We went on with practice.”

All-Star center Joel Embiid finally appears to have had enough of the Simmons saga, saying that he wasn’t there to “babysit” Simmons. 

“At this point, I don’t care about that man,” Embiid said. “He does whatever he wants.”

It’s certainly starting to appear that the only resolution to the Simmons issue will be for president of basketball operations Daryl Morey to initiate a trade, though don’t count on it happening quickly. 

But the dysfunction that continues in Philadelphia was merely one of the major headlines of the offseason. 

As players began reporting to training camps around the league and Media Days commenced, the NBA was forced to deal with an unforeseen controversy. 

Several players, including multiple superstars, took time out of their media day obligations to discuss the COVID vaccine and why they decided against taking it. 

Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards announced that he was unvaccinated, questioning why the vaccinated are still able to contract and transmit COVID, while Golden State Warriors guard Andrew Wiggins got into a testy exchange with reporters regarding his vaccination status. 

It all came to a head last week when the Brooklyn Nets announced that All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving would not be allowed to practice or play with the team “until he is eligible to be a full participant.” 

Irving — who had declined to openly state his vaccine status at the time of the Nets announcement — hopped on Instagram Live days later to explain that he was indeed unvaccinated and was doing so in opposition to the vaccine mandates across the country. 

The Nets are now without their star point guard for an indefinite amount of time, as they begin their quest for the organization’s first NBA championship. 

After an offseason filled with drama and the off-the-court questions, basketball is about to be played. 

Will Milwaukee be able to build off of their NBA title run? Or will a healthy Nets squad simply have too much offensive firepower? 

Will an aging Lakers roster really be able to win the Western Conference? Or will the additions of Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony simply be the desperate moves of a front office frustrated from a first-round exit?

We’ll have our answers soon, because basketball is back.

Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected].

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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