Philadelphia paid Simmons $8,250,984 (a quarter of his salary) July 1. Owing him another $8,250,984 installment on Oct. 1, the 76ers reportedly withheld that second lump sum.
SIMMONS HAS LOST over $19 million in fines since the season began (each missed game costs him $360,000). He hasn’t cleared a paycheck since the $8.25 million (25% of his $33 million salary) that was due to him Oct. 1. Every two weeks the team sends a notice with an explanation of all the fines he has accumulated for failing to render services, instead of a $1.375 million paycheck. By the end of the season, if he does not play for the Sixers or any other team, Simmons could lose another $12 million.
It is a staggering amount of money. Everyone involved assumes this issue will eventually be settled in arbitration. But those close to Simmons, who has earned upward of $60 million over his career, insist his decision to demand a trade and then not to play until he is traded has never been financially motivated. He wants a fresh start, away from a franchise he doesn’t feel comfortable playing for anymore.
“We don’t give a f— about the money,” one source close to Simmons says. “That’s not what this is. It’s hard for people to understand. But if you believe in what you’re doing and that this is not the right situation for you, and you’re trying to get to a better place, the money doesn’t matter. Obviously it’s a financial hit. But you adjust.”
Said another source close to Simmons, “It’s easy to tell when someone is hurt when they have a cast on their arm. But this is mental health. You can’t always see it. But ask yourself, how many people would lose a dollar over this? That should tell you everything.”
The way the 76ers – especially Joel Embiid – are playing without him, Simmons could lose much more than another $12 million. With 30 regular-season games remaining and Philadelphia fining him $360,305 per missed game, that’d be $11,529,760. But Simmons would also be subject to fines for each postseason game missed. The 76ers (31-19) are third in the Eastern Conference, half a game out of first.
Simmons says he’s not mentally ready to play. There are reasons to question whether Simmons is just saying that to protect his money as he holds out in attempt to force a trade. Heck, it’s not even clear precisely where a basketball-related desire to get trade ends and legitimate mental-health issues issues begin. Fundamentally, like with a physical injury, players with mental-health issues should get room to heal then return.
As he loses so much money, it becomes harder to doubt Simmons’ sincerity. Maybe he believes he’ll recoup some of that money in arbitration. But there’s a significant risk he won’t. Simmons wants to leave Philadelphia – and is incurring a steep cost to prove it.
Simmons has earned $65,430,634 in career salary to date. Though not even near the high end of NBA income, that wealth buys freedom.
But he’s jeopardizing $33,003,936 salary this season and $113,680,224 over the next three years of his max contract. Though it sounds hyperbolic this saga could last that long, there’s no end in sight.
So, an impasse remains – with Simmons showing his resolve as the checks stop.