The friction between Brooklyn Nets All-Star Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers may have started after a Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the 2021 playoffs. Simmons passed up a wide-open layup on a pivotal possession in the 4th quarter which ultimately decided the game. In the postgame interview, Sixers star Joel Embiid seemed to call Simmons out when asked about the turning point of that game, replying, “We had an open shot and we made one free throw.”
That was the last game that Simmons played in a Sixers uniform as he chose to sit out before being traded to the Nets on February 10. As a result, the Sixers did not pay him for the time he sat out, which caused him to lose nearly $20 million of his 2021-22 salary, which Simmons filed a grievance against in April.
But in a surprising turn of events, Simmons and the Sixers were able to settle for an undisclosed amount on August 15, per ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski.
“Brooklyn Nets All-Star guard Ben Simmons and his former team, the Philadelphia 76ers, reached a settlement agreement on the grievance Simmons filed to recoup a portion of the nearly $20 million withheld from him as a result of his failure to play games in the 2021-22 season, sources told ESPN on Monday,” Wojnarowski writes.
“Both sides agreed to confidentiality on the exact financial settlement reached, sources said.”
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Market for Ben Simmons Trade Is Scarce
Despite being traded to the Nets at the deadline, Simmons still has not played an NBA game since June of 2021. After such as long layoff, nobody knows what his capabilities on the court are currently, which has made the market for a potential Simmons trade minuscule, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post.
“When asked if Simmons had gotten assurances he was in the Nets’ long-term plans and would not be traded, a source close to the young All-Star told The Post simply that “Ben is good,” Lewis writes.
“Of course, the Nets might not have much choice in the matter. Simmons didn’t play at all last season, citing first mental health and then back issues. While he did have surgery and is on schedule to be ready for training camp, according to a source, one league source said there was no chatter about the Nets actively shopping Simmons, while two said there was little market for him.”
Harden, Simmons Swap Deemed Nets ‘Biggest Regret’
Initially, many people deemed the Nets to be winners of the trade that swapped Harden and Simmons, But the reality is that the Nets haven’t gotten as much bang for their buck as they would have liked from the assets they were able to recoup in the deal.
Simmons hasn’t played a game and had off-season back surgery in May. Though Seth Curry did suit up last season, he had an ankle injury before he arrived in Brooklyn, which limited him during the season and ultimately required offseason surgery. And Andre Drummond left in free agency to join the Chicago Bulls.
Zach Buckley of “Bleacher Report” says that not getting more at the deadline in the Harden trade is the Nets ‘biggest regret’ of the 2022 season.
“Despite spinning their tires for much of this season—thanks in no small part to a rash of big-name absences—they had a path to contention by virtue of rostering Durant. Still, the 33-year-old needed more help, and Brooklyn had a major trade chip to go find one in the disgruntled (but still super productive) James Harden,” Buckley writes.
“When the Nets finally sent Harden packing, their primary return was Ben Simmons, who hadn’t suited up all season and wouldn’t from that point forward, either. They also plucked a pair of first-round picks in the exchange, which could have been chips for separate exchanges, but neither was dealt.
They could have even kicked the tires on a Kyrie Irving trade and arguably should have since they’re now “outright unwilling to give him a long-term extension,” per Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News.”
With NBA training camps set to open next month, the Nets have many questions that remain unanswered. It will be interesting to see what the roster looks like on opening night.