It seemed inevitable that the Ben Simmons saga would reach this point. With the Australian point guard still refusing to show up for the team, the Philadelphia 76ers have now used their biggest weapon in their struggle with their disgruntled star: cold hard cash.
Since Simmons is still trying to force a trade, and has seemingly burned every bridge he has in Philly, the Sixers are withholding any further paychecks. They’ve also already fined him $360,000 for missing their preseason game against Miami.
Simmons has given his current team no other recourse. If he’s determined to force a trade away from the city of brotherly love, they sure aren’t obligated to pay him any more money. He’s in breach of contract, and doesn’t deserve to get paid. Hell, he’s also even turned the Philly weatherman against him.
This is where we’re going to see how strong-willed Simmons is, considering that he’s basically tanked his trade value with his refusal to attend camp and preseason games – plus his bad series against Atlanta.
The modern NBA certainly gives players more power over their destinies, and this movement was truly kicked off when LeBron James made “The Decision” to take his talents to South Beach, then come home to Cleveland, before deciding to spend the twilight of his career playing for the Lakers.
LeBron got a lot of shit for how his move to Miami went down, and he even admitted later on that he may not have thought things through so well, considering he was in his mid-20s at the time. I personally didn’t like how he handled it, but I had no issues with how he did things. He used his rights as a free agent properly every time, and let’s not forget that he finally won his first ring with the Heat, made good on his promise to bring a ring to his home state, and also brought a chip to LA. Throughout that time, James also refined and re-invented his game to offset his dwindling physical gifts, which is why he’s still one of the best players in the league at age 36 (he turns 37 in December).
Simmons hasn’t done any of that. He’s had some successes, and has been a great defensive player, was Rookie of the Year, made the All-Star team three times, made the All-NBA third team, and been a two-time NBA All-Defensive player. He’s never been the best player on his team, hasn’t won an MVP, and has been an offensive liability in crunch-time of close games.
He’s got the right to sit out and not play, but I admire that the Sixers are refusing to pay him while he continues with this stance. It is very true that teams will show little loyalty to their players when push comes to shove, so I don’t necessarily think its wrong that Simmons is trying to find a better situation for himself. What I disagree with is how he’s going about it.
Even if he does come back, though, he’ll probably play his heart out just to get out of town. That would at least give the Sixers a chance to get something decent in return when he leaves.