Brooklyn Nets point guard Ben Simmonsfiled a grievance to contest the nearly $20 million salary the Philadelphia 76ers withheld from him this season, creating a potentially significant matchup, sources told ESPN on Saturday.
The complaint, which will now go to arbitration, could have broader implications for the league amid future mental health issues and NBA contracts.
Philadelphia repeatedly insisted that Simmons breached his contract under the collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) and was entitled to recover the money advanced to him before the season. The NBA and NBPA have been at loggerheads on this issue, and now arbitration could set a precedent for how future mental health and contract issues could be handled.
The grievance was made with the team, the NBA and the NBPA later this week, the sources said.
The 76ers say Simmons violated his player contract by not showing up at the start of training camp and refusing to play during the preseason and regular season. Simmons arrived in Philadelphia near the end of the preseason, but cited mental health issues as the reason his participation in team activities was so limited.
The 76ers and Simmons disagreed on the degrees of access Simmons was given by the team and his doctors to diagnose and affirm those mental health issues.
In an attempt to resolve the matter without arbitration, Simmons’ representatives had several discussions with the Sixers since the trade to Brooklyn for james harden on February 10, the sources said. Those talks ended without a resolution, prompting the complaint to be filed, the sources said.
Simmons and his agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports requested a trade at a postseason meeting after the three-time All-Star point guard had a falling out with the team over a poor showing in a loss to Atlanta in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Simmons, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA draft, has been one of the best defenders in the league and signed a five-year, $170 million maximum contract in 2019.
Beginning with Simmons’ first paycheck on Nov. 15, Philadelphia began withholding his $360,000 playing salary for every game Simmons missed this season. Because Simmons received a $16.5 million advance on his $33 million salary in the offseason, there wasn’t enough money in each paycheck to cover game deductions.
Minus the amount of the escrow held by the NBA, the 76ers had been withholding nearly $1.3 million of Simmons’ salary in each of his paychecks. That has continued since the trade to the Nets, who are required to deduct salary from Simmons’ pay to send a trade to the 76ers, sources said. Since Simmons’ last paycheck is April 30, the deductions should be carried over to the offseason. One more time. Simmons will receive an advance of $8.25 million on July 1 and October 1.
The NBA’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA) states that a grievance must be initiated within 30 days from the date the complaint is based, or within 30 days from the date the grievance becomes known. the facts of the matter to initiate the complaint, in accordance with the CBA.
It has been six weeks since Simmons was traded from Philadelphia to Brooklyn, but Simmons’ representatives believe the trade did not prompt a 30-day period to file a grievance because the problem had been present all season, sources said.
Simmons has yet to play a game for the Nets this season. He had a previous back injury while trying to increase his conditioning to make his debut with the Nets. Simmons, who hasn’t played since a playoff loss in June, received an epidural injection to treat a herniated disc in his back last month. Simmons’ back problem and relevant scans were revealed during trade discussions and did not pose any significant long-term issue for the Nets at the time, sources said.
The injury first affected Simmons during the spring of the pandemic-interrupted 2020 season. He also reported back discomfort when reporting to Sixers training camp in October. The injury was evaluated and treated by Sixers doctors, and shortly thereafter he was cleared to resume basketball activities. That period of time was the only time Philadelphia didn’t find Simmons in breach of his contract this season, sources said.
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Sources: Simmons Files Tort Seeking $20M