'Sooked it up': Boomers great weighs in on Ben Simmons feud

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·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
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Australian basketball great Shane Heal says Ben Simmons' future with the Philadelphia 76ers is becoming untenable as their standoff continues. Pictures: Getty Images
Australian basketball great Shane Heal says Ben Simmons' future with the Philadelphia 76ers is becoming untenable as their standoff continues. Pictures: Getty Images

Australian basketball great Shane Heal believes Ben Simmons has legitimate reasons to be unhappy with the Philadelphia 76ers, but says the highly-paid Aussie has 'sooked it up' on his way out.

Simmons and the 76ers remain locked in a bitter pre-season standoff after the former number one draft pick demanded a trade away from the team after last season's playoffs.

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The 76ers have as yet been unable to find a suitable deal, prompting Simmons to hold out from appearing at training camp, which began last week.

The Aussie star is all but certain to stay on the sidelines until the 76ers find a trade, with his relationship with his teammates becoming increasingly acrimonious during the hold-out.

In an interview with The Age, Heal said Simmons had been burned by comments made by coach Doc Rivers and teammate Joel Embiid, who pointed to Simmons' poor performance throughout their lost semi-final series to the Atlanta Hawks as the reason for their disappointing playoff exit.

Simmons shot a remarkably poor percentage from the free throw line in the Eastern Conference semi-final, compromising the team's offence and ultimately leading to them being upset, having entered the playoffs owning the best record in the conference.

While Heal said Simmons would be understandably aggrieved by the unhelpful comments from his coach and star teammate, he also had to take his lumps for evidently not doing enough to improve his woeful shooting splits.

With Simmons prepared to eat significant fines for not showing up to training camp, practices or games, 76ers fans have turned on the former franchise saviour.

Heal said it was obvious Simmons' future with the team was now untenable.

“I think he has sooked it up, right or wrong," Heal said. 

"But part of it for Ben Simmons, when you see all the fans burning your singlet and everything else, there is a part of you says: ‘Why would I want to go back there? I didn’t get the support from my coach, I didn’t get the support from my other franchise player and now the fans are burning my singlet in the streets’."

Sixers withhold millions from Ben Simmons

The 76ers have reportedly put 25 per cent of money owed to Simmons per his contract - $8.25 million ($A11 million) - in an escrow account in response to their standoff.

According to media outlets, the Sixers will deduct any fines Simmons racks up from the account. Simmons has not reported to the team for training camp and has requested a trade.

Simmons' contract calls for him receiving two payments of $8.25 million before the season gets underway. He received the first payment on August 2.

The Sixers open their preseason schedule on Monday against the Raptors in Toronto.

Should Simmons miss that game, he reportedly would be fined about $227,000 ($A313,000). That amount would be deducted for each game he misses.

Joel Embiid said it was 'borderline disrespectful' to leave his teammates in the lurch amid a running standoff between the Australian star and 76ers management. Pictures: Getty Images
Joel Embiid said it was 'borderline disrespectful' for Ben Simmons to leave his teammates in the lurch amid a running standoff between the Australian star and 76ers management. Pictures: Getty Images

"We're in it for the long haul," a source close to Simmons told ESPN.

A three-time All-Star, Simmons has averages of 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game over his four NBA seasons. The 25-year-old Australian is under contract for four more years after signing a five-year deal worth more than $177 million in 2020.

In last season's Eastern Conference semi-finals against the Hawks, Simmons passed on a wide-open dunk late in Game 7. The 76ers ended up losing to close their season.

Sixers centre Joel Embiid said this week the entire situation involving Simmons heading into the new season was "borderline disrespectful."

"Some guys rely on the team to be successful to stay in the league and make money somehow," Embiid said after practice on Thursday.

With AAP

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