Philadelphia — The 76ers and star guard Ben Simmons have agreed to a $170 million, five-year contract extension, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. The max deal is the latest big commitment by a team expected to make a serious push at its first NBA championship since 1983.
Simmons, 22, will make about $8.1 million this season, the last of his four-year rookie deal. His salary for the next season will jump to about $29.3 million and rise to nearly $39 million in 2024-25, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Monday because the contract is not official.
The deal solidifies the 76ers’ core for the next few seasons. All-Star Joel Embiid and Al Horford are under contract though 2023, Tobias Harris through 2024 and now Simmons through 2025. Horford got a $109 million, four-year deal and Embiid agreed last season to a $147 million, five-year deal.
Simmons was the No. 1 overall draft pick in the 2016. He made his NBA debut in the 2017-18 season and was Rookie of the Year. He was an All-Star for the first time last season. He has averaged 16.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.9 assists in his two seasons.
Philadelphia is 101-58 in regular-season games when Simmons plays. He has had 22 triple-doubles in the last two seasons, tied for third most in the league with Denver’s Nikola Jokic and trailing Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook (59) and the Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James (26).
Simmons also has had 80 double-doubles over the last two seasons.
But he missed all 11 3-point attempts his rookie season and was 0 for 6 last season, a combination of an awkward shooting form and a hesitancy to keep shooting shots he can’t make. Defenses sagged on Simmons daring him to shoot because the speedy All-Star can’t do much outside the paint.
“I don’t think it’s taking shots just to take them,” Simmons said. “I think it’s just being aggressive and doing my job. I don’t think it’s any certain shot. But when you give me the ball, I’m able to make plays.”
Cavs finally let Smith go
The Cavaliers have waived colorful shooting guard J.R. Smith, ending his eventful tenure with the team.
Cleveland had been trying to trade Smith, 33, for months, but the team couldn’t find the right package and released him to cut space under the salary cap and avoid paying luxury taxes.
Smith’s days were numbered when he agreed to leave the club in November after 11 games. He wasn’t happy with his role, and the Cavs didn’t want him around their young players.
Smith played a vital part in Cleveland winning the 2016 NBA championship. He made two 3-pointers during a critical stretch of Game 7 of the Finals, helping the Cavs complete a historic comeback from a 3-1 deficit.
He’ll also be remembered for a gaffe in the 2018 Finals, when he mistakenly dribbled out the clock at the end of regulation in a tie game that Cleveland lost in overtime.