Ben Simmons still hasn’t played in an NBA game since being traded to the Brooklyn Nets, but he is still making noise in the league. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Ramona Shelbourne, and Bobby Marks report Simmons has filed a grievance to challenge the nearly $20 million of salary that was withheld by his former team, the Philadelphia 76ers, this season.
According to the report, the grievance will go into the arbitration process, and the team has been informed of Simmons’ decision. If Simmons is successful, this could lead to more significant implications for NBA teams dealing with mental health issues and players’ contracts.
Philadelphia has repeatedly insisted that Simmons was in breach of his contract under the collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and National Basketball Players Association and had the right to recoup the money advanced to him before the season. The NBA and NBPA have been at odds on this issue, and now arbitration could set a precedent on how future matters of mental health and contracts might be handled.
The filing was made with the team, NBA, and NBPA late this week, sources said.
The 76ers have insisted that Simmons breached his player contract upon failing to show up for the start of training camp and refusing to play during the preseason and regular season. Simmons arrived in Philadelphia near the end of the preseason but cited his mental health for the reason that his participation in team activities was so limited.
The 76ers and Simmons disagreed over the degrees of access that the team and its doctors were allotted to Simmons to diagnose and affirm his mental health.
In October, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Tim Bontemps shared that Simmons was not paid the $8.25 million the Sixers owed him. Instead, the team placed the money into an escrow account which the Sixers used to deduct for fine money. The original plan was for Simmons to receive the rest of the money left in the account if he returned to the active roster.
Per Ramona Shelbourne, Simmons was sent a notice every two weeks by the Sixers front office for “failing to render services,” informing him he would not receive his scheduled $1.4 million paychecks. The total reached over $19 million by February.
When the 2021-22 NBA season began, Simmons chose not to play for the Sixers, focusing on his mental health after the team failed to secure a trade during the offseason. Thanks to James Harden not feeling the situation in Brooklyn, Simmons was traded to the Nets in a blockbuster midseason deal that saw Harden arrive in Philly. While Harden is playing, Simmons has been recovering from a back injury with no clear timetable for his return.
The trade was supposed to close the chapter between Sixers and Simmons, but this grievance means the drama will only continue.
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