By Teddy Brenner

The Sixers open 2021-22 in New Orleans with no guarantee that Ben Simmons will play.

He has practiced twice with the Sixers since ending his holdout after dominating the national and local media since his meltdown June 20 in the playoffs against the Hawks.

He has insisted on a trade, and it seems like he returned the other day just to pick up a much-needed check.

He declined to talk to the media for the second straight practice on Monday — the Sixers say he’s scheduled to speak today — and maybe then he can start to explain why he wanted out of Philadelphia. And now that he’s back, how long does he plan to stay.

Tyrese Maxey ran the offense with the first team in the portion of practice open to the media, and Simmons mostly stood in a corner stretching or dribbling the basketball. He played defense on one drill, then walked off the court without saying a word to a teammate.

Rivers said he had no idea if Simmons will play Wednesday.

“We’re just going to take our time,” Rivers said Monday. “When it comes, I’ll make that decision. I’m just going to wait and see and watch. The spirit has been so good. We’re just going to keep going.”

Simmons, the No. 1 pick of the 2016 draft, was paired with Joel Embiid as the franchise cornerstones as the Sixers chase their first NBA championship since 1983.

Simmons, though, took the brunt of the blame for the top-seeded Sixers’ second-round exit in last season’s playoffs. He shot 34% from the free-throw line in the postseason and was reluctant to attempt a shot from anywhere on the floor late in games. That led to him spending critical minutes on the bench.

He’d be the only missing starter from last season’s run to the Eastern Conference’s top seed. Embiid, Danny Green, Seth Curry and Tobias Harris form a solid first four. Sixers President Daryl Morey has fielded offers for Simmons, but has yet to find a package to his satisfaction for the enigmatic guard.

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