The Sixers-Nets matchup set for Thursday night didn’t need anymore juice.
But we’ve got some anyway.
Ben Simmons’ representation will soon file a grievance against the Sixers in attempt to recoup the over $20 million the three-time All-Star lost during his holdout, according to Kyle Neubeck of the Philly Voice. Neubeck also indicated that there’s talk in league circles that Rich Paul and Klutch Sports will use the reaction to Simmons on Thursday as part of their argument.
“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. And the debate over Simmons’ obligation to the franchise is what will ultimately take center stage, even if Simmons’ side of the argument appears to be fighting an uphill battle in their quest to recoup his lost money.”
As you’ll undoubtedly recall, Simmons requested a trade over the summer. He then refused to suit up for the Sixers with reports about his unhappiness with comments made after a Game 7 loss, his discontentment with his role alongside Joel Embiid, and a mental health issue all mentioned as the root causes.
The last one was a sticking point with both the player and the team. Simmons had been receiving treatment through the NBPA for a mental health issue. The Sixers never disputed the claims, but were concerned that they were not made aware of a specific diagnosis or any form of treatment that would allow Simmons to return to action.
What happened was an ugly public dispute. Simmons reported to the team, but it never appeared that he had any intention of playing for the Sixers, despite the team lobbying both privately and publicly for that to happen.
As Neubeck reports, the Sixers’ case is strong in this matter:
“Based on conversations with league sources and several people familiar with the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, the early indication is that the Sixers are in a much stronger position here. That has seemed true throughout this process, including when Simmons’ representation approached the players association in early October about their ability to recoup money from this standoff, though it will ultimately be up to an independent arbitrator if and when this process moves forward.”
There will certainly be a venomous response from Sixers fans with Simmons’ return to the Wells Fargo Center. How that proves that Simmons should be able to recoup $20 million for the Sixers taking actions well within their rights according to the CBA is a bit puzzling. The hope is fans keep it to typical on-court vitriol, questioning Simmons’ ability as a shooter or simply letting him know that they’ve fallen madly in love with James Harden.
The important thing to remember here is that Harden is a Sixer, and we’ll get to watch him go up against Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and his former team Thursday in what should be an electrifying atmosphere.