Ben Simmons is ready to return to Philly after his trade to the Brooklyn Nets. The talented point guard is yet to make his debut with the Nets but will be in attendance when the Brooklynites visit Philadelphia this Thursday.
Steve Nash revealed that the Australian will travel with the squad to Philly, and he knows what that means for him and the public at Wells Fargo Center. Still, the head coach believes that's the best thing Simmons can do.
Moreover, it's been revealed that Ben has other reasons to attend the game. According to Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice, Simmons' representatives will file a grievance soon to try to recover the money the player lost in fines this season. Further, when he lands at Wells Fargo Center and (supposedly) the crowd boos him, they will use that hostility to back their case.
The expected move has been a long time coming. Dating back to the fall, there have been many around the Sixers' organization who have chosen to go radio silent on all things Simmons, aware that arbitration was a likely outcome for this process. And anyone with a rudimentary understanding of finances also probably could have seen this coming — nobody likes to throw away $20 million even if they have than that in the bank or coming to them down the road.
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. Reports of an increased security presence at Thursday's game circulated on Tuesday morning, which a cynical observer would say is meant to combat the venom directed at Simmons specifically. The security detail for that game, however, has been described simply as a "playoff-level crew" with consideration for a number of factors, including increased celebrity presence and a larger media contingent, in addition to the obvious angle regarding Simmons and the Nets.
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. And the debate over Simmons' obligation to the franchise is what will ultimately take center stage, even if Simmons' side of the argument appears to be fighting an uphill battle in their quest to recoup his lost money.
This is an interesting tactic for Simmons' team, but they've made it clear they never thought it was fair that the Sixers fined him, given that he was dealing with mental health issues. Now he's gone, getting ready to play for a new team, but the saga between him and the Sixers is far from finished. He really left a mark on the Sixers and this time, it wasn't for the best reasons. We could see Simmons facing his old team in the playoffs, and those duels will be memorable.