Sources told ESPN that the Philadelphia 76ers didn't pay Ben Simmons $8.25 million, 25% of his contract, and instead placed that money in an escrow account.
As the season progresses, Simmons' fines will be deducted by the 76ers. Sources told ESPN that Simmons will be paid the remaining money if he shows up.
Monday will be the Raptors' first preseason game against the 76ers. This will be the next line in this story. Simmons will be fined approximately $227,000 if he doesn't make it back to the team by Monday. This amount will also apply to any future games Simmons misses.
ESPN was told by sources that Simmons was made aware of this possibility during a meeting with Philadelphia's leadership. Simmons replied that he understood the situation and that it wouldn't change his stance on reporting to Philadelphia nor rescinding the trade request.
A source close to Simmons said that they are in it for the long-term.
Daryl Morey, Philadelphia's president for basketball operations, declined to answer questions about whether Simmons would be withheld the money. Simmons already received $8.25 million on August 2. His contract says he will receive two 25% portions of his contract before the season starts.
"I would say that we are not going to discuss the details of fines or other things, but I will tell you it's very clearly stated in the CBA as well as in his contract what happens," Morey said Monday during his preseason news conference.
The temperature has only risen as Simmons and the 76ers return to the court this week.
Morey attempted to spin it in an optimistic direction Monday during his news conference. He compared it to the turbulent offseason between Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers, and Rodgers' return to lead Green Bay to victory over the San Francisco 49ers the night before.
Morey stated that he believes there is a lot more hope. "I would say that I saw last night a player lead his team towards victory, when a thousand pounds worth of digital ink was spilled about how much he would never again play for that team.
"Every situation is unique, but we are optimistic that we can make it work here."
Joel Embiid, the Superstar Center, initially expressed optimism about reuniting and Simmons. He said that he was disappointed with the current situation between them but still believed that he could win with Simmons.
"Honestly, I would probably state that I'm disappointed," Embiid stated. "Because we haven’t won anything. But just looking at the media and the tweets from you guys about your sources, I would view it this way: Look at what we’ve been able do. ... We've been so dominant and good in the regular season that it's clear that it's working. ... It's disappointing that we are in this position. ... He knows it too. I am just disappointed that he isn't here. He is certain that we can win together."
Following a report in The Athletic that Simmons was considering quitting alongside Embiid's win, Simmons responded with a lengthy answer to reporters who asked him about it after practice on Thursday afternoon.
"The situation is disappointing. It borders on being disrespectful to all of the guys out here fighting for the lives," Embiid stated to reporters at Camden's practice facility. He also said that Simmons' idea that the Sixers had not built their team around him was incorrect.
"I feel like our team has been built. Whether it's the shooting needs or stretch 5, I feel like Simmons always had it. Embiid stated that they still have it, after listing the names of the three-point shooters on their roster. "... We have always built our teams around his needs.
"It was kinda surprising to see," Embiid said, referring specifically to the report. "We'll tell you that, even going back at the reason we signed A.l. [Allen Iverson]. We got rid Jimmy [Butler], although I still believe it was a mistake. Just to make sure that [Simmons] had the ball in his hand. They made that decision. It is, as I mentioned, surprising."
This story was contributed by Bobby Marks, ESPN.