The Sixers are preparing for their first game against the Brooklyn Nets since the blockbuster trade that landed James Harden in Philadelphia. While Ben Simmons won’t be playing in Thursday’s matchup, he’s still found himself in the news regarding his pending grievance against the Sixers.
Philadelphia had fined Simmons roughly $20 million, and it had long been speculated that the former Sixer would pursue action and send this matter to arbitration. Simmons camp, specifically his representation Klutch Sports, asserts that the conditions he was forced to work in fed his mental health issues and led to his inability to play for the Sixers this season. Paul had this to say to The Athletic’s Shams Charania back in November 2021:
“I truly believe the fines, the targeting, the negative publicity shined on the issue — that’s very unnecessary and has furthered the mental health issues for Ben… Either you help Ben, or come out and say he’s lying. Which one is it?”Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul
Clearly, this issue isn’t going away any time soon. Simmons and his management will pursue this until they can no longer, and it seems they will be willing to do whatever it takes as well. In a recent report by Philly Voice’s Kyle Neubeck, not only will Simmons file a grievance against the Sixers but it’s been suggested that he could use this Thursday’s matchup in Philly as evidence in his case:
The suggestion has been floated in league circles that Simmons showing up for Thursday’s game is merely setting the stage for Simmons and Klutch Sports’ argument when the grievance is filed… 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.Kyle Neubeck
There is little doubt that there will be a notable ruckus in Philadelphia with Ben Simmons’ return especially considering the large media presence. And yes, the Sixers have ramped up the security detail for that night but have also claimed that it is related to the large celebrity and media presence expected, not Ben Simmons. Regardless, the fan reaction — venomous though it is sure to be — should have no bearing in an arbitration case as Simmons has already gone on the record and claimed that his refusal to play wasn’t about the fan base.
Simmons’ camp seems to feel differently, so expect whatever reaction 76ers fans have to be one of the most talked-about subjects in the NBA. Time will tell who’s side will be favored in the end, but in Philadelphia, Thursday should be about battling the Nets on the hardwood, not Simmons off of it.