Ben Simmons

Gordon, McCollum Withdraw From U.S. World Cup Team

Two more potential Team USA players have decided not to participate in the 2019 World Cup. Rockets guard Eric Gordon is withdrawing from the team, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic, and Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum is joining him, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

With James Harden and Anthony Davis pulling out of the competition earlier this week, Team USA is now left with 16 players in training camp who will compete for 12 spots. The withdrawing players all said they want to focus on the upcoming season rather than the tournament, which will be held in China from August 31 to September 15. NBA training camps open in late September.

One of those remaining players, Kyle Lowry, had a surgical procedure on his thumb this week, and may not be physically ready to participate. His potential absence, plus the withdrawal of the four stars, should create more opportunity for members of the select team, who will be scrimmaging with the 16 players left in camp.

The players will gather for camp from August 5-8, and exhibition games will follow later in the month.

Canada’s World Cup team also lost an NBA player this week when Tristan Thompson elected not to participate, Charania tweets. In addition, Ben Simmons confirmed that he won’t be taking the court for Australia.

Atlantic Notes: Irving, Dinwiddie, Fall, Simmons

Kyrie Irving‘s interest in playing in New York dates back to at least December, Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie said on a podcast with Shams Charania of The Athletic (hat tip to Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston).

“You could just tell from the conversation that it was a little bit different,” the Nets’ Dinwiddie said. “… Actually, it definitely was December because he made a comment to me, he was like, ‘New York might be real fun next year,’ because I hadn’t signed yet. … That’s when I was first tipped off to the whole thing.” 

Dinwiddie signed an extension with the Nets on December 13 and started developing a strategy to get Irving and Kevin Durant to join him in Brooklyn. He spoke frequently to Irving about the organization, touting the style of play, the training staff and the family-oriented atmosphere that GM Sean Marks has installed.

“Of course I’m going to be like, ‘Bro, (the Nets are) perfect for you,'” Dinwiddie added. “‘And (head coach) Kenny (Atkinson) gonna let you rock.'”

There’s more tonight from the Atlantic Division:

  • Rookie center Tacko Fall will come into camp on an Exhibit 10 contract, but Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge tells NBC Sports Boston that he will be given a chance to earn a roster spot. “Tacko is fun to watch,” Ainge said. “… Guards get in a bind and they just throw the ball up in the air and then Tacko grabs it and tip-toe dunks it into the basket. It just looks like a senior in high school playing against fourth-graders sometimes.”
  • Sixers guard Ben Simmons confirmed on Twitter that he won’t be playing in the FIBA World Cup. He plans to host camps in Australia and train with the national team, but he won’t take part in any games. Simmons expressed an intention to participate in the Olympics next summer.
  • The Raptors have a $2.95MM trade exception that will expire tomorrow, tweets Blake Murphy of The Athletic. It’s left over from the deal that brought Kawhi Leonard from the Spurs last summer.

Simmons’ Extension Includes Trade Kicker, Rose Rule Language

JULY 17: According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter), Simmons’ extension would have a different starting salary depending on which level of All-NBA team he makes. Based on the figures Marks provides, it looks like Simmons’ starting salary will be worth the following percentage of the cap:

  • All-NBA First Team: 30%
  • All-NBA Second Team: 29%
  • All-NBA Third Team: 28%
  • No All-NBA spot: 25%

We’ve updated the chart at the bottom of this story to reflect the new info from Marks.

JULY 16: Ben Simmons‘ new five-year, maximum-salary extension with the Sixers doesn’t feature any options, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). That means the deal, which starts in 2020/21, will run through the 2024/25 season.

Wojnarowski provides two more interesting details on Simmons’ extension, reporting that the deal includes a 15% trade kicker and has Rose Rule language that would increase the value of the contract if he earns a spot on an All-NBA team next season.

The trade kicker means that Simmons will receive a bonus worth 15% of the remaining money on his deal if he’s dealt. However, that bonus can’t push his cap hit beyond the maximum salary, so it likely won’t matter until the later years of the contract.

The Rose Rule language is more interesting. Typically, a maximum-salary deal for a player with Simmons’ years of NBA experience (less than seven) would start at 25% of the cap. However, the Rose Rule allows a player who makes an All-NBA team to earn a starting salary worth up to 30% of the cap instead.

Teams and players can negotiate a starting salary between 25-30% if the player achieves certain performance criteria. For instance, Devin Booker‘s maximum-salary contract with the Suns this season would have started at 27.5% of the cap if he’d been named to the All-NBA Third Team in 2019, 28.5% if he was named to the Second Team, and 30% for a First Team nod. It’s not clear if Simmons and the 76ers got that specific in their negotiations.

Here’s what Simmons’ next contract will look like, based on the NBA’s current cap projections for 2020/21:

Year No All-NBA (25%) 3rd Team (28%) 2nd Team (29%) 1st Team (30%)
’20/21 $29,250,000 $32,760,000 $33,930,000 $35,100,000
’21/22 $31,590,000 $35,380,800 $36,644,400 $37,908,000
’22/23 $33,930,000 $38,001,600 $39,358,800 $40,716,000
’23/24 $36,270,000 $40,622,400 $42,073,200 $43,524,000
’24/25 $38,610,000 $43,243,200 $44,787,600 $46,332,000
Total $169,650,000 $190,008,000 $196,794,000 $203,580,000

Eastern Notes: Simmons, Smith, Sexton

Ben Simmons‘ near-$170MM extension with the Sixers may sound like an exorbitant amount for the 22-year-old, but Derek Bodner of The Athletic argue that the deal could turn into a bargain.

Simmons’ 2020/21 salary (estimated to start at $29.25MM) currently places him 30th among his NBA peers that season. Surely other players will sign top-end deals next summer, dropping him lower in the rankings.

The point guard still needs to further develop his jumper to become great, Bodner cautions. However, Simmons has all the tools to easily become a top-10 talent for the Sixers and should that happen, he would be severely underpaid.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • If J.R. Smith signs with another team, the Cavaliers will recoup the $500K they agreed to give him for extending his guaranteed date via setoff, ESPN Bobby Marks notes on Twitter. Cleveland waived Smith on Monday.
  • The Cavaliers didn’t play Collin Sexton in Summer League because the point guard didn’t have much to gain from the experience, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com explains. The level of competition in Las Vegas and Utah isn’t very high and it was much more prudent to allow Sexton to join the team in those locations but not risk injury during live action.
  • The Cavaliers are fans of Jaron Blossomgame, who played for their Summer League team, Fedor relays in the same piece. Blossomgame spent time with the club under a two-way deal in 2018/19 and is a candidate for a roster spot this upcoming season.

Sixers Sign Ben Simmons To Five-Year Extension

JULY 16: The Sixers have officially signed Simmons to his new extension, the team announced today in a press release.

“Ben Simmons is an important piece of our core and he is one of the NBA’s most dynamic and talented young players,” GM Elton Brand said in a statement. “It was a priority for our organization that we finalize a contract extension with Ben this summer. He was Rookie of the Year in his first season, an All-Star in his second and we expect him to continue grow and succeed for seasons to come. Ben positively impacts the game in so many ways and we look forward to continuing our championship pursuits with him as one of our leaders.”

JULY 15: The Sixers and Ben Simmons have reached a deal on a five-year, maximum-salary contract extension, agent Rich Paul tells Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The agreement had been anticipated after Philadelphia put a max extension offer on the table for Simmons near the start of free agency.

Based on the NBA’s current cap projections for 2020/21, which is when Simmons’ new deal will begin, a five-year, maximum-salary contract will pay him $169.65MM.

The Sixers and Simmons could agree to language that would push that figure as high as $203.58MM in the event that he earns an All-NBA spot next season, but there’s no indication yet that those Rose Rule conditions will be included in the agreement. For what it’s worth, Charania pegs the value of the contract at $170MM.

Simmons, who will turn 23 on Saturday, has established himself as one of the NBA’s most dynamic young play-makers since being selected first overall in the 2016 draft. After missing his rookie season for health reasons, he has averaged 16.4 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 7.9 APG, and 1.6 SPG in 160 regular season contests for Philadelphia over the last two years.

While Simmons is one of the league’s most dangerous creators in transition and can go off for a triple-double on any given night, the Sixers will be looking for him to expand his half-court game and to add a more consistent jump shot to his repertoire going forward.

With a lucrative new deal for Simmons hitting their books in 2020/21, the Sixers will have to take their long-term luxury tax outlook into account when making roster moves. Having made major financial commitments to Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, and Al Horford too, Philadelphia already projects to be $6MM+ over the tax line for ’20/21 with only 11 players under contract so far, tweets Jeff Siegel of Early Bird Rights.

Siegel also observes (via Twitter) that Simmons and Embiid are both now “designated rookies” for the Sixers, having signed five-year extensions before their rookie contracts expired.

An NBA team is permitted to have up to two designated rookies on its roster at a time (including no more than one via trade), so the Sixers wouldn’t be able to add a third until Embiid’s contract expires in 2023, unless they trade away Simmons or Embiid. It’s the same rule that prevented the Celtics from acquiring Anthony Davis last season while they were carrying Kyrie Irving.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sixers Notes: Simmons, Butler, Harris, Horford

Don’t expect to see Ben Simmons at the FIBA World Cup, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Simmons’ agent, Rich Paul, tells Woj that Simmons is “doubtful” to suit up for Australia, preferring to spend the summer concentrating on the upcoming NBA season.

Simmons, who was born in Melbourne, also pulled out of the 2016 Olympics so he could prepare for his rookie year. He began representing his home nation in international tournaments in 2012 when he was 15, but was cut from Australia’s World Cup team two years later. One of the NBA’s top young stars, Simmons is currently mulling over a five-year, $170MM extension offer from the Sixers.

There’s more today out of Philadelphia:

  • Even though Jimmy Butler‘s stay with the Sixers was short, GM Elton Brand doesn’t regret the trade that brought him from Minnesota, relays Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Philly sent Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless and a second-round pick in 2022 to get Butler for what turned out to be 55 games. “When we went into it last year, it was hopefully Jimmy found a great fit and hopefully we did also,” Brand said. “I’d make that trade again. He gave us a great playoff run last year.”
  • After re-signing for $180MM over the next five years, Tobias Harris has become much more important to the Sixers’ future, Bontemps observes in the same story. Harris often found himself as the fourth or fifth option on offense after being acquired from the Clippers in a mid-season trade, but with Butler and J.J. Redick both gone, the team will rely on Harris to provide more scoring. “I can come into next year with that kind of energy, that kind of fire to improve my game and show different parts of my game, too,” Harris said. “Obviously I’ll have the ball in my hands in more different situations and I’m ready for that. I’ve been working out all summer to get ready for that.”
  • Former Celtic Al Horford didn’t expect the Sixers to be among his suitors in free agency, writes Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston. He said negotiations with Philadelphia “escalated very, very quickly” once teams were officially allowed to talk to players. “When Elton called and spoke with my agent, he laid down this offer,” Horford recalled. “I was very surprised there was that strong interest for me being here. It made the decision very easy. I’m just excited to be a part of this.”

Eastern Notes: Young, Westbrook, Siakam, Hawks

Thaddeus Young gives the Bulls a much-needed glue guy, Sam Smith of the team’s website writes. Not only does Young fill the stat sheet but he also provides other valuable assets, such as contesting shots, staying in front of his man and forcing opponents to pass late in the shot clock, Smith adds. Young signed a three-year contract with Chicago that could be worth up to $43.6MM. Young will embrace a leadership role, as Sean Highkin of NBC Sports Chicago relays. “I know the task is very, very hard,” the former Pacers big man said. “I carry that weight each and every day. I know I can help these young guys get better, I know I can push them over the hump.”

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Adding Russell Westbrook would have made the Pistons better in the short term but it wasn’t worth the long-term risk, Keith Langlois of the team’s website opines. The Pistons couldn’t afford to give up future first-rounders and agree to pick swaps as Houston did to acquire Westbrook from Oklahoma City. With Blake Griffin‘s big contract and Andre Drummond holding an option to become a free agent next summer, the Pistons would not have been able to make any more notable future upgrades if they took on Westbrook’s huge contract, Langlois adds.
  • The Raptors might as well offer Pascal Siakam a max four- or five-year extension this summer, Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca argues. Ben Simmons has reportedly received a similar offer from the Sixers, while Jamal Murray has already signed an extension with the Nuggets. Siakam has outperformed both of his peers in many categories, Grange notes. The Raptors also don’t have any salary-cap restraints in future seasons that would prevent them from maxing out Siakam, Grange adds.
  • Rookie of the Year finalist Trae Young and young big John Collins will see an increase in playing time, Hawks GM Travis Schlenk told Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Lottery picks De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish will also get thrown into the fire for the rebuilding Hawks. “Last year, Trae and John played about 30 minutes. They are probably going to play 35 minutes this year as they continue to grow,” Schlenk said. “De’Andre is obviously going to play a lot of minutes. Cam, we are going to play a lot.”

Sixers Offer Max Extension To Ben Simmons

Ben Simmons has received a maximum extension offer from the Sixers that would pay him $170MM over five years, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Simmons’ agent, Rich Paul, will work through the details with the team in hopes of reaching an agreement, Woj adds.

The first selection in the 2016 draft, Simmons has established himself as one of the best young players in the NBA. After sitting out his first season because of injury, he captured Rookie of the Year honors in 2018 and was even better this year. One of the league’s most versatile players, Simmons posted a 16.9/8.8/7.7 line and helped the Sixers reach the second round of the playoffs.

Philadelphia wants Simmons, who will turn 23 later this month, to be part of the cornerstone for the franchise well into the future. After an offseason of change that will see Jimmy Butler and J.J. Redick depart and Al Horford and Josh Richardson replace them, the Sixers want to make sure that Simmons and center Joel Embiid are under contract for as long as possible.

Sixers Discussing Extension With Ben Simmons, Nuggets Begin Talks With Jamal Murray

The Sixers have begun contract extension talks with Ben Simmons and his agent Rich Paul, Adrian Wojnarowski of the ESPN.com reports (Twitter link). Sham Charania of The Athletic tweets that the Nuggets have starting discussing an extension with Jamal Murray and his agent, Mike George of One Legacy.

Players from the 2016 draft class who remain on their original rookie deal are eligible to sign extensions this summer. Simmons was the No. 1 overall pick from the draft and Murray was the No. 7 overall selection.

Assuming a projected salary cap of $117MM for the 2020/21 season, the total max value of an extension for either player is approximately $170MM over five seasons.

Each player had arguably had their most successful campaign in 2018/19. Both the Nuggets and Sixers made it to the Game 7 of the second round of the playoffs, each falling in heartbreaking fashion.

Knicks Notes: Free Agency, Fine, Iguodala, Kings Trade

The Knicks are hoping to land at least one of the marquee free agents — Kevin DurantKawhi Leonard or Kyrie Irving — but if they come up short, they won’t eat up their cap space with multi-year contracts, Ian Begley of SNY TV reports. They don’t want to take on a bad contract in order to accumulate more assets. It’s uncertain if they’d trade for a player with a big contract in his walk year.

Instead, they will most likely sign free agents to one-year deals, much like the Lakers did last summer after LeBron James committed to them, in order to retain cap flexibility. The New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy reiterates that sentiment, adding that the Knicks could shift gears and go after Anthony Davis, DeMar DeRozan, Draymond Green, Ben Simmons and Pascal Siakam next summer.

We have more on the Knicks:

  • The team was fined $50K by the league for violating rules regarding equal access for media, according to a league press release. The Knicks did not allow Bondy access to their post-draft press conference on Friday while allowing all other credentialed media who cover the team to attend. The organization has agreed to comply with media access rules in the future.
  • Warriors forward Andre Iguodala took a jab at the organization and its pursuit of major free agents, including his teammate Durant, Ethan Sears of the New York Post relays. In an interview with CNBC, Iguodala said, “Nobody’s gonna sign with the Knicks, sorry.”
  • The Knicks gave up $1MM in cash along with the No. 55 pick to the Kings on Thursday, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. New York moved up to the No. 47 spot and chose University of Michigan forward Ignas Brazdeikis. The Kings selected Virginia’s Kyle Guy.