Stephen A. Smith, on his ESPN show, “Stephen A’s World,” ranted about how Ben Simmons, Kyrie Irving, and John Wall have essentially been paid to sit out games. He believes this could have consequences over the coming years. Smith stated:
“Call it the Ben Simmons rule, call it the Kyrie rule, hell, call it Ja Rule, alright? Do that! I don’t care what the hell you call it. Just don’t call me complaining when the owners push to end this nonsense when the next Collective Bargaining Agreement comes up. Cause trust me, y’all, it's coming, and they gonna have all of this ammunition. It’s not gonna be good for the players, trust me.”
Ben Simmons elected to sit out the entire season despite being deemed fit to play. The Philadelphia 76ers held paychecks from Simmons, but Simmons is trying to challenge that. Stephen A. Smith believes this sets a bad precedent for the league.
John Wall was also an issue as he did not play a single minute this season, despite being the second-highest-paid player in the NBA.
The only difference was that it was a mutual decision between Wall and the Houston Rockets. Houston wanted to give as many minutes as possible to their young core.
Kyrie Irving is another example, choosing not to get vaccinated against COVID-19, therefore not being able to play home games. The Brooklyn Nets decided they didn’t want to have a part-time player at the start of the season, so Irving was only paid for away games.
After the injury bug hit the Nets, he was allowed to play in away games. Then the vaccine mandate was lifted, and Irving could officially play in every game.
NBA team owners do not want to spend money for players who sit out games. When the new CBA does come along, there might be rules imposed to protect against similar situations.
How the Ben Simmons situation could change the business side of the NBA
Ben Simmons' hold-out from the 76ers exemplified the player empowerment era and how NBA teams are now run. Though, it seems to have been a win-win for both teams.
Simmons found a new team in the Nets, who provided him with a fresh start and reduced pressure. The 76ers received a much-needed playmaker and second superstar in James Harden.
For the league, it doesn’t look good to have players ask out of their contract after one year, but the 76ers did not have to pay Simmons. It does work out that there is at least a financial penalty for intentionally sitting out games.
However, Smith is still correct that the manner in which Simmons handled the situation could hurt players down the road.