Brooklyn Nets guard Ben Simmons filed a grievance seeking to recoup nearly $20 million in pay the Philadelphia 76ers are withholding from him, ESPN reported Saturday.
The grievance will go through arbitration. It was shared with the team, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association, which is backing Simmons.
Last offseason, Simmons asked the 76ers to trade him, and he didn’t play all season, citing mental health reasons, in part, for his refusal to play. The 25-year-old showed up at training camp last fall, days before the start of the season, but was sent home for conduct detrimental to the team. The team assessed heavy fines as he stayed away from the team.
He already had received an advance of half of his $33 million salary in the offseason, and the team held back the remainder of his salary in fines in an attempt to recoup the advance.
The 76ers contend Simmons breached his contract. The NBA and the NBPA disagree about the issue, and the arbitration could establish a precedent about how matters of mental health and contracts are dealt with down the road.
ESPN said that before the grievance was filed, Simmons’ team tried to settle the matter with the Philadelphia front office but couldn’t reach an agreement.
The 76ers sent Simmons, fellow guard Seth Curry, center Andre Drummond and two first-round picks to the Nets on Feb. 10 for guard James Harden and forward Paul Millsap.
Simmons has yet to play for the Nets, citing a back issue.
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Simmons was the 2017-18 NBA Rookie of the Year and is a three-time All-Star with career averages of 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 1.7 steals in 275 games.
–Field Level Media