It’s no secret Ben Simmons has had a tumultuous NBA career. After the Philadelphia 76ers selected him with the top pick in 2016, he missed his entire rookie season. His next two seasons were his best — he came close to averaging a triple-double while shooting better than 55% from the field.
As his popularity grew, Simmons made the All-Star team three years in a row. The Sixers offered him a five-year, $177 million contract in 2019, an indication the team and player would continue a long and fruitful relationship. But after the 2021 playoffs, Simmons found his career heading in a downward spiral.
Most NBA fans have seen the highlight of Simmons passing up an open dunk in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Atlanta Hawks. While the Sixers certainly had other opportunities to win the game and series, that play—and Simmons, by extension—was the scapegoat. Simmons’ then-teammate Joel Embiid and then-coach Doc Rivers both threw him under the bus during the team’s postgame press conferences.
Simmons headed into the offseason with his confidence at an all-time low.
As it turned out, that series was the final time Simmons put on a 76ers uniform. The next year, he sat out the entire season, saying he wasn’t mentally ready to take the court. Philadelphia, knowing the relationship was beyond severed, eventually traded him to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for James Harden.
Simmons seemed poised to make his season debut in Brooklyn—and then a back injury kept him out for the remainder of the year.
Simmons did finally play for the Nets this season. However, in reduced minutes, he averaged the fewest points, rebounds, and assists per game of his career. On March 28, the Nets announced they were shutting Simmons down so he could recover from a knee injury.
He played 58 games in 2020-21 and 42 games in 2022-23. Counting the season in between that he missed entirely, Simmons appeared in a grand total of 100 games over three years.
During the 2020-21 season, Simmons made $30,559,200. His salary for the following year was a shade over $33 million, though after the 76ers filed a grievance, Simmons ended up with about $20 million. This year’s salary is $35,448,672, even though Simmons is missing about half the season.
In total, Simmons is making about $86 million despite missing 136 regular season contests—nearly 58% of his possible appearances. Essentially, Simmons has earned $860,000 every time he’s stepped on the court the past three seasons.
Of course, some of that money is going to taxes, agent fees, and other expenses. And Simmons is still participating in practices, media events, and all the off-the-court activities that come with being a professional athlete.
Still, Simmons is doing very well for someone who’s missed more than half of his team’s games. And there’s even more good news for him: There are still two seasons left on his deal that are worth about $78 million.
Simmons will aim to return to his peak form when he was a budding star in the making. Yet even if he struggles, he’s set for life.