Ben Simmons was credited with a year of service for the season he didn't play for the Philadelphia 76ers and was traded to the Brooklyn Nets, according to a report from ESPN.
The information reportedly came as part of a "previously undisclosed side letter" in the NBA's new collective bargaining agreement. This report comes almost a month after the CBA was released ahead of free agency in June.
Years of service matter when eligibility for new deals and maximum contract values are being determined. The league’s decision was reportedly contested by officials from several teams who felt he should not receive credit for the 2021-22 season. While Simmons now has seven official years of service in the league, the ruling is reportedly not intended to set a precedent for future cases.
Now 27, Simmons requested a trade from the Sixers during the 2021 offseason. The request came after the team’s second-round Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
After reporting to training camp ahead of the 2021-22 season, the former LSU Tiger opted not to participate or play in any regular-season games due to his mental health. In February 2022, he was traded to the Nets in a deal that saw James Harden go to the 76ers.
In Brooklyn, the three-time All-Star remained on the bench. Dealing with various knee and back issues, he underwent back surgery in April 2022 to address lower back pain from a herniated disk. During that time, he reportedly filed a grievance against the Sixers, who had withheld about $20 million of his salary.
He was still paid by the Nets for his time during the 2021-22 season. He also reportedly settled with Philadelphia in August 2022 to regain some of the salary the team withheld. Those specifics have not been reported.
Simmons, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, has averaged 14.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 7.5 assists in 317 games with the 76ers and Nets.
During the 2022-23 season with the Nets, Simmons averaged career lows of 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists over 42 games. He was shut down in May after being diagnosed with a nerve impingement in his back. A month later, his agent told the New York Post that Simmons would be “healthy to start the next season, for sure.”