AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File
Ben Simmons might be reconsidering his holdout.
According to Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice, “the financial significance of holding out is starting to take hold in Simmons’ camp” after he was fined “roughly $360,000” for skipping Monday’s preseason matchup vs. the Toronto Raptors.
Per that report: “Simmons’ representation had another discussion with the players association in which it was reiterated they would be unable to recoup the money being deducted from the $8.25 million sitting in escrow, sources say, and it was communicated to the Sixers that these early fines were perhaps higher than they expected.”
According to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps and Bobby Marks, skipping all four preseason games would cost Simmons $1.4 million in fines, money he cannot get back unless he agrees to a settlement with the Sixers. Even if he’s traded, his new team could not pay him the money he lost in fines.
Sitting out the first month of the season would cost Simmons around $7.2 million in fines, a significant chunk of change.
The question is what happens next?
In a sense, Simmons not reporting to the team affords them some leverage. It’s less of a distraction than having an unhappy Simmons around the team, and if the Sixers start out strong without him they can comfortably continue to hold out for the best possible value in a trade.
It also puts pressure on Simmons to change his stance, given the amount of money he stands to lose by not reporting.
Granted, Simmons returning to the team and playing at an extremely high level could help rehabilitate his trade value around the league and help facilitate a deal. One would imagine Daryl Morey and Doc Rivers would communicate as much to him. But if an unhappy and sulky Simmons returns to the Sixers and is a distraction in the locker room and offers a halfhearted effort on the court, the situation could grow pretty ugly.
And if the Sixers start poorly with or without Simmons around, it could eventually force their hand in trade talks. The last thing the Sixers can afford is to waste a season of superstar Joel Embiid’s prime.
With the start of the regular season just under three weeks away, it remains the biggest question mark around the NBA, outside of Kyrie Irving’s vaccination status and availability for Brooklyn Nets’ home games this year.