A line appears to have been drawn underneath Ben Simmons' long-running dispute with the Philadelphia 76ers, with the NBA team agreeing to pay a confidential settlement to the Australian star.
Simmons and the 76ers have been at odds since the 26-year-old refused to play for the team last season, a standoff which ultimately culminated in his trade to the Brooklyn Nets.
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The bad blood between the two parties traces back to the 2021 NBA playoffs, in which Simmons' performance in the 76ers' underwhelming second round exit was heavily scrutinised.
That scrutiny didn't just come from outside the team - Simmons was reportedly unhappy about direct criticism of him from All Star teammate Joel Embiid and head coach Doc Rivers after their season ending loss.
The resulting tension wasn't cleared by the time the subsequent season started, leading to Simmons refusing to either play or show up for training after he demanded a trade.
Philadelphia eventually began witholding part of his salary, however the team stopped doing so after Simmons said his absence was due to mental health concerns.
Simmons had signed a five-year, $170 million max extension with Philadelphia in 2019, and he was supposed to make about $33 million last season. He reportedly received a $16.5 million advance on his salary before the season began.
The 76ers started fining Simmons for every game he missed, and ended up fining him more than $19 million by Feb. 1. The team withheld nearly $1.3 million of his salary in each paycheck.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the two parties had come to an agreement, however the amount of money recouped by Simmons will remain confidential.
According to Wojnarowski, the two sides reached a confidentiality agreement regarding the settlement amount. The 76ers still “maintained Simmons breached his contract” with them.
Simmons had been fined for not showing up to training camp and missing a preseason game, but the team stopped withholding his salary when Simmons reportedly told them he didn't feel "mentally ready" to play for the team he'd vowed to never play for again.
The team eventually resumed fining him, in part due to Simmons reportedly refusing to give the Sixers updates on his progress with mental health treatment.
Ben Simmons settles pay grievance with Philadelphia 76ers
The 26-year-old Australian was the No.1 pick by Philadelphia in 2016 and became an NBA All-Star. But he was heavily criticised after he struggled when the top-seeded 76ers were upset by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2021 Eastern Conference semi-finals.
The settlement comes as the 76ers are hit with tampering allegations over their re-signing of superstar guard James Harden, who they traded Simmons for last season.
Harden surprised the NBA when he opted out of the final year of his contract, which would have seen him paid $47 million for the 2022/23 season, in order to sign a new three-year deal with the Sixers.
Rivers said the league's allegations that the 76ers had early contact before they signed P.J. Tucker, Danuel House and re-signed Harden were "not true" because he and team president of basketball operations Daryl Morey had "no idea" Harden would opted out of his contract before free agency began.
"First of all, we didn't know what we were going to do with the money we were getting [when Harden opted out of his $47 million player option]," Rivers said.
"And listen, James won, too, because James could've opted into a one-year deal. Instead, we gave him three years. And so both parties won in a lot of ways. Listen, it worked out for us, it worked out for James.
"I guarantee you Daryl Morey had no idea what James was going to do," Rivers added.
"I remember talking to him on the eve of when James could opt in or out, and he was like, 'We've got five hours left.' I mean, that was Daryl Morey, so that tells you he had no idea ... I really believed that James was not going to opt in, that he was going to try to do a longer-term deal. But I didn't know, I can tell you that. That's for sure."
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