Philadelphia 76ers

Ben Simmons just made $26m overnight. His win could be the 76ers’ loss

That’s exactly what happened to star Australian point guard Ben Simmons when he was named to the All-NBA Third Team, the first All-NBA selection of his career.

But Simmons’ financial windfall and another richly deserved accolade, following his appointment to the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team, comes with implications for the make-up of the 76ers much-maligned roster.

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Friday September 25thPG13 and Kawhi stink it up

PG13 and Kawhi stink it up

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We’ll get to what that all means in a moment, but first here are the first, second and third-team selections:

First: LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, Anthony Davis, James Harden; Second: Damian Lillard, Kawhi Leonard, Nikola Jokic, Chris Paul, Pascal Siakam; Third: Ben Simmons, Jayson Tatum, Jimmy Butler, Rudy Gobert, Russell Westbrook.

Note there’s no Joel Embiid there, while playoffs stars Jamal Murray and Donovan Mitchell missed out.

For all the plaudits that came along with Simmons’ selection, the Aussie star isn’t taking anything for granted. His Instagram post showed him working in the gym, because he “doesn’t deserve a vacation”.

That will absolutely delight 76ers fans. You want your key players constantly striving to improve, especially after their straight sets exit in Orlando.

What may not delight Sixers fans however is the potential salary cap squeeze that now faces the front office as a result of Simmons’ All-NBA selection.

Ben Simmons is NOT getting complacent.Ben Simmons is NOT getting complacent.Source: Instagram

As per the terms of his rookie max contract extension, Simmons is now entitled to 28% of the Sixers’ total salary cap. In simple terms, that means his five-year contract jumps from $US158 million over five years to $US177m.

That’s a $26 million payday in Aussie dollars, and of course in a COVID-19 landscape a lot could change. But as it stands the NBA salary cap is projected to be around $US109m for next season.

OK so that means Simmons commands a bigger slice of the pie alongside All-Star alpha Embiid and the bloated contracts owned by Tobias Harris and Al Horford.

Philadelphia is already in a tough spot, with no easy trade options on the table to offload the Harris and Horford money; simply put they’ll find it extremely difficult to find a team willing to take on their massive salaries without elite production.

Simmons’ projected bump would make him the team’s second highest paid player behind Harris for the 2020-21 season (making $US30m and $US34m respectively), and put the team more than $35m over the cap.

BAM! Boston BLOCKED in OT

BAM! Boston BLOCKED in OT

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The NBA has a system to manage salary cap squeezes like this called the luxury tax. That means if a team exceeds its soft cap by a certain amount, they must pay a ‘luxury tax’ to keep the roster in tact.

The nitty gritty of the luxury tax system and what it means for Philly gets pretty complicated, so you can take a deeper dive in this excellent explainer.

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In short, Simmons’ All-NBA honours mean the Sixers have jumped up a whole tax bracket, and that will cost the owners real money when the NBA tax man comes knocking.

The Sixers can just pay the levy and get on with things.

But with a roster already under the microscope, rumours of trades for either Embiid or Simmons to rebuild an already cap-squeezed outfit and a history of making trades to shift around money, this financial wrinkle could make things even more interesting in their front office before December.

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