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EXCLUSIVE CONTENT Get ESPN+ Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers: The evolution of the offseason’s most complex saga

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That had become standard as the Sixers and Paul’s client, Ben Simmons, played out one of the longest, most frustrating games of poker between a franchise and its disgruntled superstar the NBA has seen in years.

After months of a mostly unproductive staredown, Brand received a call and text message from Paul, informing him that Simmons had ended his two-week, unpaid staycation in Los Angeles and was outside the door of the team facility, reporting for a COVID-19 test. Previously, the collectively bargained league memos had used slightly softer language, like “Would not” be paid, which Paul’s agency believed left room to argue Simmons could ask to be paid for the salary he lost if and when he was traded, sources said.

But in a meeting with Brand, head coach Doc Rivers and president of basketball operations Daryl Morey on Tuesday, Simmons offered little insight – and has offered his teammates even less.

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