Ben Simmons said he wasn’t mentally ready to play for the 76ers this season. He was trying to force a trade from Philadelphia, but he said his mental-health issues weren’t just about the trade. 76ers president Daryl Morey said he believed Simmons.
Yet, the 76ers fined Simmons more than $19 million before trading him to the Nets.
Simmons is reportedly set to return to Philadelphia on Thursday, sitting on Brooklyn’s bench but not playing due to back issues.
league sources anticipating that Simmons and his representation will file a formal grievance against the Sixers at some point in the coming days.
The suggestion has been floated in league circles that Simmons showing up for Thursday’s game is merely setting the stage for Simmons and Klutch Sports’ argument when the grievance is filed.
Put Simmons in the middle of that storm, the argument goes, and it’s believed that will be Exhibit A in the case of why Simmons could not and did not fulfill his obligations for the Sixers prior to being traded, why he was unprepared to work for this franchise prior to being dealt.
Maybe Simmons will recoup some of his lost money. Like a physical-health issue, a mental-health issue that precludes a player from playing shouldn’t jeopardize his “guaranteed” salary. But there are difficult questions about where to place the line between prohibitive mental-health issues and a desire not to play for a team amid a trade request. Even if Simmons couldn’t play due to legitimate mental-health issues, there are questions about whether Simmons was or wasn’t taking appropriate steps toward fulfilling his contractual duties with 76ers.
An arbitrator will have plenty to sort out.
It’s tough to see how attending Thursday’s game in Philadelphia will bolster Simmons’ case, though.
The treatment he gets as a visiting player won’t necessarily show how fans would’ve responded to him as a 76er. On the flip side, Simmons’ mental health on March 10 doesn’t necessarily show his mental health in October-February.
If anything, if Simmons handles Thursday’s game, that could show he could have handled playing in Philadelphia for the 76ers.