The large majority of the focus heading into this free agency period for the Sixers was on the free agents, with Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris the headliners.
But there was another player eligible for a substantial, long-term contract, and he may receive it soon from the Sixers.
The Sixers and Ben Simmons are working toward completing a five-year extension of nearly $170 million, a team source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the news that the Sixers had offered the extension.
Simmons was slated to become a restricted free agent after the 2019-20 season. He’ll make $8.1 million this year and the extension would kick in starting in 2020-21.
The team has already locked up Tobias Harris for the next five years while also signing veteran big man Al Horford to a four-year deal.
The 6-foot-10 Australian has earned Rookie of the Year honors and made an All-Star team in his first two NBA seasons. He averaged 16.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game last season, posting 10 triple-doubles in the regular season, one in the playoffs. Simmons is an agile, versatile defender who seems to be on the verge of making an All-Defensive team.
Simmons’ most prominent, most discussed weakness is his perimeter shooting. He hasn’t shot many jumpers and has converted them at a low rate — 25 for 99 (25.3 percent) on shots from 10 feet and out last season, with no career makes from three-point range. When asked at his exit interview in May if he’d come to training camp in September with an expanded game, Simmons gave a simple answer — “Yes.”
Ahead of training camp, Simmons will represent the Australian men’s national team in August in the FIBA World Cup.
Though there are several aspects of Simmons’ game that could improve — limiting turnovers, maintaining an aggressive mindset and high-level defensive effort, continuing to grow as a post player — developing his jumper is the most obvious pathway for him to reach his potential.
The Sixers, who already know they have a unique talent in Simmons, are set to make a long-term commitment. Their hope now will be that Simmons comes close to reaching everything that seems possible for him.
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