Ben Simmons is preparing to stay with his team Philadelphia despite briefly turning his back on his $200million contract in an unprecedented move for the controversial basketball star.
Melbourne born Simmons, 25, who skipped Australia’s Olympic campaign in Tokyo to party with a bevvy of models, was widely tipped to move to a rival franchise in the US this season – and wasn’t said to be short of options.
The likes of Cleveland, Minnesota, Golden State, Toronto, Houston, Washington, Sacramento, Portland and San Antonio are all believed to be monitoring the situation with the 76ers closely – but it now appears Simmons will again call the Quaker City home from October 20 onwards.
According to The Athletic, Simmons’ agent Rich Paul is working tirelessly to get his client to remain on the books of Philly.
Simmons is also expected to reach out to his coach Doc Rivers in the coming days, in what is sure to be an awkward conversation.
The recent stand-off has proven to be expensive for the son of Aussie NBL legend David Simmons, who is already $490,000 out of pocket after missing the 76ers’ pre-season loss to Toronto.
Simmons has four years remaining on his current contract with Philly, said to be worth a staggering $202million.
He has not been in contact with club officials since late August, when he formally requested a trade.
Ben Simmons’ talent on court is obvious – his desire to leave the 76ers has enraged many fans and teammates
The Melbourne born point guard lives a luxury away from the court, which gets under the skin of many former players
Philly fans have also turned against the Simmons, with this fan sporting a t-shirt declaring he was missing in action
If Simmons does stay with the 76ers, he will also need to mend the considerable rift with his teammates, notably superstar Joel Embiid.
A three-time NBA All-Star, Simmons has impressive averages of 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game over his four NBA seasons.
In last season’s Eastern Conference semi-finals against the Hawks, Simmons passed on a wide-open dunk late in the deciding Game 7. The 76ers ended up losing to end their season.
The fallout was severe, with NBA royalty Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley questioning his degree of talent.
‘Ben Simmons, you’re not that good,’ O’Neal said on the Big Podcast at the time.
‘In this league, do you want to be good? Or do you want to be great? You’re not great. But if you want to get to that next level, you have to be great, and to be great, you have to work on your game.’
Simmons has been widely panned for his questionable work ethic across his career, opting to spend his time off court on yachts in Europe with ex-girlfriend Kendall Jenner while other stars improved their game.
‘Don’t be putting pictures up on your Instagram of your Ferrari or what actress you’re hanging around with,’ O’Neal said.
‘When you play for a town like Philadelphia, Boston, LA, Miami – hard-working towns, they don’t give a s**t about none of that.
‘They want you to come work hard and play hard.’
NBA legends Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal have been vocal in their criticism of Simmons
Simmons also disappointed many Boomers fans after skipping the Olympics to work on his game – only to be seen days later watching the tennis at Wimbledon
If Simmons does eventually leave Philadelphia, he has a number of suitors waiting in the wings, including Cleveland, Minnesota, Golden State, Toronto, Houston, Washington, Sacramento, Portland and San Antonio
Barkley also didn’t mince his words, declaring he was ‘disappointed’ Simmons accepted the US $200 million extension – only to then want to leave Philly after one season.
‘I’m disappointed in Ben Simmons,’ Barkley said. ‘When you give somebody $US 200 million to dribble a stupid basketball, and the only thing you ask him is be better as a player, and their first response is “I don’t wanna play here anymore”, that disappoints me as a player, that disappoints me as a fan.
‘They’re not saying “come over and cut my grass”. They are saying, ”Ben, we need you to learn how to shoot the basketball”.’
It is a key area Simmons needs to improve – and quickly.
Simmons’ three-point shooting has bordered on comical, with opposing teams leaving him wide open on the defensive end because of his inability to make a shot outside of the key.
The 25-year-old’s free throw shooting is also the butt of many jokes, falling to an awful 32.8 per cent in the 2020/21 playoffs.
His reputation also took a massive hit in Australia after Simmons told the Boomers coaching staff he would not be representing them at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, instead using the summer to ‘to focus on individual skill development’.
But days later he was seen in the stands at Wimbledon in London with love interest Maya Jama, drawing heavy criticism from outraged fans.
Numerous Philly fans have also turned their back on Simmons, amid claims he is desperate to move on – despite inking a five year contract in 2020