It’s official! Simmons gets his massive pay day
Ben Simmons has agreed to a $242 million contract extension with the Philadelphia 76ers in the richest deal by an Australian athlete.
Doubt still hangs over whether the Melbourne-born NBA All-Star will play for Australia later this year at the World Cup in China and in Melbourne and Perth exhibition games.
Simmons' acceptance of the 76ers' five-year maximum contract extension had been expected.
The Athletic, citing Simmons' agent Rich Paul, was the first to report he had accepted the offer.
It was Paul who shocked Australian sports fans on the weekend when he told ESPN that Simmons was "doubtful" to play for Australia at the World Cup in August- September.
His absence would be a major blow to the Boomers' hopes of claiming a medal in China in September and to huge crowds of Australian fans planning to watch him play exhibition games with the Boomers.
The Boomers will play a powerful US squad twice in front of more than a combined 100,000 fans at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne in August. Simmons was also set to play for the Boomers twice in Perth against a strong Canadian squad before jetting out to China.
The Boomers are yet to win a medal at a World Cup or Olympics, but with Simmons spearheading a team laden with Australian NBA players including Patty Mills, Andrew Bogut, Joe Ingles, Matthew Dellavedova, Aron Baynes and Jonah Bolden, the drought appeared set to be broken.
Simmons, 22, will make about $11.5 million this season, the last of his four-year rookie deal.
His salary for the next season will jump to about $42 million and rise to nearly $55 million in 2024-25.
The deal solidifies the 76ers' core for the next few seasons. All-Star Joel Embiid and Al Horford are under contract though 2023, Tobias Harris through 2024 and now Simmons through 2025.
Horford got a $154 million, four-year deal and Embiid agreed last season to a $208 million, five-year deal.
Sixers general manager Elton Brand had until the middle of October to reach a max deal with Simmons but wasted little time in locking up another cornerstone player.
Simmons was the No. 1 overall draft pick in the 2016. He made his NBA debut in the 2017-18 season and was Rookie of the Year. He was an All-Star for the first time last season. He has averaged 16.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.9 assists in his two seasons.
Simmons also has had 80 double-doubles over the last two seasons. But he missed all 11 three point attempts his rookie season and was 0 for 6 last season, a combination of an awkward shooting form and a hesitancy to keep shooting shots he can't make.
Defences sagged on Simmons daring him to shoot because the speedy All-Star can't do much outside the paint.
"I don't think it's taking shots just to take them," Simmons said.
"I think it's just being aggressive and doing my job. I don't think it's any certain shot. But when you give me the ball, I'm able to make plays."
Harris, who re-signed with the Sixers this summer on a $255 million, five-year contract, recently worked out with Simmons in Los Angeles and found him dedicated to improving his shot.
"Everybody was trying to figure out why I was guarding him at the 3-point line, but it was really because he hit two of them," Harris said.
"When I dared him to shoot two of them, he hit two in a row. That's why I was there. He's made big improvements on his game. His jump shot is looking really good and he has the confidence to shoot."