Ben Simmons was not on the court Monday night when the 76ers took on the Raptors in both teams’ first preseason game. While he probably wouldn’t have played even if he showed up for training camp — both Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris sat this one out, too — this was the first game missed as part of his holdout.
It’s also the first game check fine for Simmons, about $360,000. The Sixers will deduct that money from the $8.25 million up-front payment that the team withheld from Simmons on Oct. 1 (money that currently sits in escrow), and Simmons can appeal that fine through arbitration.
Is Simmons feeling a pinch from realizing that money is gone? The 76ers hope so as they try to pressure him back onto the team (primarily to raise his trade value so they can find a deal). For the 76ers perspective, check out what Kyle Neubeck wrote at the Philly Voice:
Despite assurances through various media members of note, a league source says the financial significance of holding out is starting to take hold in Ben Simmons’ camp.
After being fined for missing Philadelphia’s preseason loss to the Toronto Raptors on Monday night — a penalty of roughly $360,000 — Simmons’ representation had another discussion with the players association in which it was reiterated they would be unable to recoup the money being deducted from the $8.25 million sitting in escrow, sources say, and it was communicated to the Sixers that these early fines were perhaps higher than they expected.
I’m cynical that the financial hit is troubling Simmons and his camp, specifically Rich Paul and Klutch Sports — at least not yet. They knew what the fine would be, they knew it was coming, and they were prepared. When Simmons and his camp settled on the holdout strategy, something rarely seen in the NBA, they fully understood the risks. Simmons has made more than $57 million in salary since entering the NBA, got an $8.25 million up-front payment for this season in July, and has several lucrative endorsement deals — he’s still able to put food on the table.
The two sides remain at a stalemate — while teams are staying in touch with the 76ers, sources have told NBC Sports there has not been meaningful trade talk around Simmons in weeks — and are looking to up the pressure on the other side. That means stories leaking about trading partners and rumors of offers in the press from Simmons camp, and the fines from the 76ers.
The sides remain dug in: 76ers GM Daryl Morey isn’t going to trade Simmons in a package that makes his team worse right now — Philly sees itself as a contender with Embiid at its core. Other teams see Simmons as a player who doesn’t have a good outside shot and was so afraid of being fouled last playoffs — and having to shoot free throws, where he was 34.2% in the postseason — he rarely drove the lane. It’s hard to build around a player like that.
There will be leaks to the media from both sides as they try to control the spin. This soap opera is far from over. In the end, until something changes the dynamic of the situation — an injury to another team, or a team that starts slower than anticipated and feels it has to make a move — the stalemate will continue. Even if Simmons is feeling a pinch.