Updated: Jan 12
Despite many blockbuster moves through both free agency and the trade market, the biggest story of the offseason has been the Ben Simmons holdout saga with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Simmons struggled last season both on the court and in the 76ers organization. In January, this was kicked off when the former 1st overall pick was mentioned in trade talks with the Houston Rockets regarding James Harden. Simmons continues to struggle on the court as well. This was highlighted in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs when Simmons shot 10-28 over five games in a series with the Washington Wizards. That led to a lack of aggression, which is typically a staple of his play and revealed a significant hole in his abilities. This built on the rift between the player and the organization and contributed to Simmons' deteriorating relationship with the Philly fans.
In July, the Sixers mentioned Simmons in trade talks again; however, their asking price was considered too high for the multiple-time All-Star talent and 1st round picks, talks stalled through the summer and fall. After a contentious offseason, Simmons asked for a trade on September 1 and announced he would not attend Sixers training camp. This was when financial implications for both parties became real. The Sixers would withhold $8.25 million from his contract, and the fines started rolling in. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the team fined Simmons an additional $1.4 million for missing all four preseason games, at $360,000 per game. Simmons returned to Philly in mid-October; however, these did not resolve the situation. On October 19, it was reported by Shams Charania that head coach Doc Rivers suspended Simmons for the regular-season opener for conduct detrimental to the team after reportedly refusing to participate in a team drill.
In terms of further financial implications, there is a lot still up in the air. "I have never seen a situation like this," ESPN's Bobby Marks was quoted saying, "… We are in uncharted territory here." While we still do not know what will happen, we know that the next month could significantly influence the prospects of the Sixers seasons and could shape the future of Simmons' career. Simmons' reputation around the league is deteriorating. At this point, we have seen his teammates and coaches speak out against him for how his behavior has negatively affected the team. If this continues, Simmons' future career opportunities and salary expectations could be dramatically affected. Due to this saga, the NBA community is now forced to speculate what the future holds for a player who many expected to be a future Hall-of-Famer.