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Another entry was made in the Ben Simmons saga as the Philadelphia 76ers have reportedly fined him his $360,000 game salary for missing Thursday night's win, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported. The team plans to continue fining the All-Star guard until he works with team physicians and completes other basketball-related obligations, per the report.
The team has grown increasingly frustrated with Simmons' refusal to accept team help after he said ahead of the season opener he was mentally unready to play again, per a report earlier this week. The Sixers had fined Simmons a total of $2 million for not reporting to camp, but stopped once he said he was mentally unprepared. The team will reportedly place Simmons' future salary into an escrow account as they had during camp, per ESPN.
Report: Sixers believe they have no choice but fines
Simmons, 25, has been working with mental health professionals through the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) since the summer, but has reportedly not provided any details from those meetings to the team. He has been working with team doctors on a back issue, which he cited as one of his reasons for not returning to game play.
The Sixers reportedly believe they've been supportive of Simmons so far, but have no choice given his refusal to communicate on his health, evaluation or treatments, per the report.
Simmons has been regularly at the facility for daily basketball work, but is skipping other requirements such as "strength training, film study and some presence at team practices and game-day shootarounds," per ESPN.
Simmons-Sixers relationship continues to sink
This latest development is just another in a four-month standoff between the sides that 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey said could play out over four years. That's how long Simmons has left on his contract at a price point of $147 million.
The club has worked on finding a trade package for Simmons, but refuses to do it for anything less than "a difference maker" in exchange for Simmons, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA draft. That hasn't come to fruition and Simmons has made it clear he doesn't want to play for the Sixers organization ever again.
What's left is a back-and-forth playing out like a soap opera in the first weeks of the NBA season. The Sixers stopped fining Simmons following his statement that he wasn't ready to play because of his mental health. It was likely due to a provision in the collective bargaining agreement that protects a players salary if his reason for being unable to play is "caused by the player's mental disability."
NBPA executive director Michele Roberts has defended Simmons' stance and said the organization "have and will continue to provide Ben with the support and resources he needs to work through this."
The Sixers are 7-2 to lead the Eastern Conference standings.