Now It’s Getting Real: 8.25 million Unpaid in Philly

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Updated: October 1, 2021
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A story that has only continued to spiral has finally evolved from theoretical to something directly in play of the material plane. With how Ben Simmons’ contract is structured, he is owed quite a large sum of his salary upfront. July 1st he already received his first 8.25 million dollar installment, and the next 8.25 million that was just due is being withheld by the front office until Simmons decides to report to camp and is ready to play. It is truly a fascinating situation that we have found ourselves in because every step of the way and every decision made by both parties involved are setting the precedence for future players and front offices when dealing with disgruntled stars.

Each move is somewhat like a court case decision that has the potential to alter the options of what camps and GMs do when operating in similar situations moving forward. Already, a player with 4 years left on a recently signed max demanding a trade is a new option created by Klutch and Simmons that inevitably will be replicated again by at least 1 of the newly signed rookie extensions we just saw this offseason. Daryl Morey and the 76ers front office refusing payment of the 8.25 million is the 2nd action taken that makes it easier for future front offices to use this as the template as the first move of resistance in attempting to gain some sort of control over a forest fire. One of the reasons though that it has had little effect thus far is Simmons and his camp expect that eventually, this money will find its way into his bank account.

However, the next event that is pending and has already essentially been promised by Daryl on media day are the upcoming fines that Ben will be hit by if he chooses to miss actual games. Once preseason starts, the bag of Simmons’s 33 million dollar annual contract starts to be bleed and is money that is not being withheld but taken and spent elsewhere.

“Players can be fined $2,500 for the first day of missed practice. The fine increases to $5,000 for the second day missed and $7,500 for the third day. And the Sixers could also suspend Simmons once preseason games begin on Oct. 4, which would cost him $227,613 for each game missed” (InquirerSixersSimmonsFines). 

There are even some reports claiming that he could lose out on a total of 20 million in fines alone if he opted to sit out the rest of the season. Now since the Sixers are a title contender and are extremely dedicated to Joel Embiid and his current prime window, the chances that Simmons is not traded by the deadline is set at about 0.01% considering their current roster without him (or the assets he would be traded for) are nothing more than a first-round knockout waiting to happen. 

However, the roster’s depth is not so shallow that they wouldn’t make the playoffs if they waited till the day of the deadline to trade him. That specific date has yet to have been set in stone by the league but let’s hypothetically set it 2 weeks after the All-Star Break, placing it in the 2nd week of March, that would be 65 regular season games missed. After the first 20 fines, the 227,613 number bumps up to a clean 300,000k. So without even including the training camp and preseason fines, if Daryl opted to wait till the trade deadline, the total comes to just under 20 million in fines. 

There is a possibility, especially with how robotic Morey operates, that he has already consulted with ownership that if they were to fine Simmons the full 20, that they could calculate that into the trade package, considering they could spend the 20 million in the buyout market. 

However, again, if this is how the Sixers chose to play their hand, not only is a slippery slope for their front office and how players may view joining Philly in the future, the precedence will then be established as a viable option for franchises moving forward. Not only for these specific players asking for trade demands with 3-4 years left on a max, but any trade demand could be dealt with in a similar way.

One could argue, if Harden would’ve played the Simmons card and not reported to training camp and said he would not suit up, the smartest economic move would’ve been to bleed out his contract until the deadline, save the cash and trade him after the All-Star break. Now his situation is different for obvious reasons, his value was clearly established as a top 10 player where Simmons’s value is a favorite debate amongst analysts around the league especially after these most recent playoffs.

But in a future situation, if this is to play out and Simmons is fined for a substantial number of games, it may take this bargaining chip of sitting out off the table for max players who lose such a large sum of money per game in their attempts to be sent elsewhere. Ideally, for both parties, a trade happens tomorrow and none of this plays out…however, Morey and his arrogant outlook towards the human experience, is one that appears to be ambivalent to how this may affect the Sixers and their on-court chemistry. If a deal isn’t available that he feels benefits his franchise this year and moving forward, in his mind, he probably is thinking, if I’m forced into an unfavorable deal, I might as well get the 20 million consolation prize attached to it.

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