Stuff is getting real in the standoff between Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers. Training camp is underway; certain Sixers players are abandoning the dog-and-pony show; Philadelphia's first preseason game is in three days. Three days! Most importantly, as reported by Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, Oct. 1 "marks the date that the second 25 percent of Simmons’s salary for the 2021-22 season—roughly $8.25 million—is due." That's today! Fischer has it from league sources that the 76ers are, in fact, withholding that money. Yikes.
Apparently, this is all being done with the knowledge of and "in dialogue with" the players' union and league office. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported Friday afternoon that Simmons "has understood the ramifications of his holdout" and "is still not showing up to Philadelphia." This moment—this meeting of the rubber and the road—this is when posturing becomes a by-God holdout. It will repair the damaged relationship not at all for Philadelphia to sit on Simmons's paycheck like this, but contracts are contracts, and if Daryl Morey figures this pressure gives him the best chance of dragging Simmons back into the fold and regaining some of his lost trade leverage, his job title makes that his prerogative. I am just here for the carnage, thank you very much.
The ball is now in Simmons's court. There's saying you will hold out and remain in Los Angeles and indeed never even so much as make eye contact with any living human who has ordered one Philly cheesesteak in their life, and then there's abandoning a paycheck worth $8.25 million. I like to think I am a man of deep principles and unshakable moral convictions, but I would quite simply karate-kick "Tiny Tim" Cratchit into the open mouth of a great white shark for $8.25 million, to say nothing of driving to Philadelphia and moping through a few basketball practices. Ben Simmons has made life-changing money already in his career, but this is a steep, painful, extravagant price to pay to avoid hooping it up with Joel Embiid.
Luckily for Simmons, there are loopholes available for a person whose $8.25 million payday is contingent on the fulfilling of certain bare-minimum professional obligations. One plane trip, a token appearance, and the sudden onset of at least one and possibly dozens of phantom injuries, and the Sixers could be back on the hook:
[T]here have been growing whispers this week among NBA sources with knowledge of the situation that Simmons could respond by actually reporting to Philadelphia in the coming days, but maintaining that he is injured and unable to compete. Simmons has had noted knee and back injuries in the previous two seasons. [...]The Sixers’ first preseason game is in Toronto on Monday, and there’s a belief held in league circles that Simmons may even rejoin the Sixers prior to that contest. How that would be received by teammates and staffers remains to be seen. Bleacher Report
Yes. Ha ha ha ... Yes!