In a looming standoff that would have lasting implications for the NBA, Philadelphia 76ers All-Star forward Ben Simmons won’t report for the opening of coaching camp next week and intends to never play another game for the franchise, sources told ESPN on Tuesday. Simmons, 25, wants a trade out of Philadelphia and told management that he has no plans to wear an NBA uniform again until he’s moved to a replacement team, sources said.
This is fixing a showdown for a Sixers franchise with championship hopes which will be greatly diminished without Simmons on the ground — balancing the likely short-term losses with him sidelined against the long-term goals of getting a maximum trade return for Simmons. Simmons explained his stance to ownership and management during a late August meeting and has had no direct contact with the organization for weeks, sources said.
Simmons has four years and $147 million left on his max contract — including $33 million for 2021-22 — and clearly understands the potential financial implications of sitting out. The Sixers could test Simmons’ willingness to remain away by fining him a considerable salary. At Simmons’s request, the Sixers have discussed trades throughout the league since the top of the playoffs, but they were disappointed within the offers and decided to carry onto him with hopes he would start the season and improve his trade value together with his performance.
Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and coach Doc Rivers have told Simmons that they need him in training camp and on the ground to partner with All-NBA center Joel Embiid — something that Simmons has told them he does not want to try to, sources said. Beyond the league’s negotiation agreement, which provides the power for the Sixers to withhold salary for a player’s failure to supply services, the Sixers have their own set of rules that include fines for missing media day and every missed practice. the ultimate resort for the Sixers might be to suspend Simmons for “failing to render services” once preseason games begin — which could cost Simmons $227,613 for every missed game.