Ben Simmons is eager to play with Joel Embiid.
He has before: The new 76ers teammates once joined forces in a pickup game in Florida.
Simmons, now 19, came to America to attend Montverde Academy (Fla.) for his final three seasons of high school in January 2013. That's where the Australian star met Embiid, who was a senior at The Rock School in Gainesville. They were not high school teammates. Embiid transferred from Montverde after his junior season but made the 98-mile trek back to scrimmage.
"He was going against Dakari Johnson," Oklahoma City's second-round pick in 2015, Simmons recalled. "It was like watching two giants battle. It was crazy."
These days, the 7-foot-2 Embiid and the 6-10 Simmons are the faces of the Sixers franchise. Both will be rookies next season. Embiid, 22, who was taken third overall in the 2014 draft, has been sidelined after right foot surgeries in each of the last two summers.
Despite that, he's the only center who is guaranteed to be on the roster when the Sixers' season starts in October. The team shopped Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor during the draft.
"He has great footwork and can score inside," Simmons, the Sixers' first overall pick, said of Embiid. "I know how to get the ball to bigger guys down low.
"I am comfortable coming in and playing with this team."
The Sixers are cautiously optimistic that Embiid will play this season. The Cameroonian big man joined five-on-five scrimmages on Tuesday. However, he won't play with the team in the summer leagues in Utah or Las Vegas next month. During the season, Embiid's playing time will be limited and he won't play on back-to-back nights.
Simmons could miss at least some summer-league action because of contract negotiations. The Sixers will open their summer-league minicamp on Thursday in Salt Lake City. The earliest Simmons can sign a contract is Friday. The Sixers will open the Utah Jazz league against the Boston Celtics on July 4 at Vivint Smart Home Arena.