Sources told ESPN that the Philadelphia 76ers have fined All-Star guard Ben Simmons $360,000 for missing Thursday's win over the Detroit Pistons. They will continue to fin him until he cooperates on his mental health and fulfills any other basketball-related obligations.
Sources say that Simmons' future salary will be transferred to an escrow account by the Sixers. After Simmons had initially been cooperative in a path towards returning to play, Philadelphia released Simmons money from escrow earlier this season.
Sources claim that Sixers officials believe they were supportive of Simmons' mental health needs and that they feel forced to take these actions because he refused to give basic information about his mental health treatment, evaluation, or treatment, or to consent to consultation with any specialists that the team has arranged. Simmons has had contact with mental health professionals through the National Basketball Players Association.
This is the latest salvo in a four-month long, increasingly hostile standoff between Simmons and the Sixers. Simmons, who has four years and $147million left on his contract, has asked for a trade but has not expressed any desire to be traded.
Sources said that Simmons had been regularly showing up at the team's facility to play basketball with coaches and teammates. However, Philadelphia will now begin fining him for failing to fulfill other requirements such as film study, strength training and presence at team practices and game day shootarounds.
Despite Simmons' absence, the Sixers are 7-2 with the best Eastern Conference record.
Simmons was fined $2 million for refusing to return to training camp and a limited return to the team. Philadelphia stopped fining Simmons two weeks ago after Simmons told teammates and team officials that he wasn’t mentally ready to play and had plans to seek professional help.
Simmons, 25, worked with his team and his own physicians to treat a back condition. However, Simmons has repeatedly told the Sixers that he doesn't want to disclose information about his plans for mental health treatment. Sources said that Simmons has been cooperative.
Simmons and his representatives are unhappy with Philadelphia's handling the situation, since public criticisms were levelled at the guard following his disappointing Eastern Conference semifinals performance.
The Sixers have been unsuccessful in finding a trade package that matches their asking price. They also tried unsuccessfully to convince Simmons to return to the game until such a deal was made. Daryl Morey, Philadelphia's president of basketball operations, stated that Simmons is a top-level player and has not been able to get one in the months that have passed.