Twist as Simmons officially pulls out
Ben Simmons' decision to pull out of the 2019 Basketball World Cup is official - but the 22-year-old will be making his Boomers debut on home soil next month.
On the same day Simmons officially put pen to paper and celebrated his five-year, $170 million ($241.6 million AUD) contract extension with the Philadelphia 76ers, it was reported Simmons has decided to return home for the Boomers' World Cup warm-up games against the United States.
His decision not to play the World Cup, beginning at the end of August, follows NBA superstar Anthony Davis' decision to pull out of Team USA's campaign earlier this week.
Simmons and Davis are both managed by Klutch Sports agent Rich Paul, who also advises LeBron James.
Simmons officially confirmed his decision via a statement through his own personal Twitter account.
"I wanted to let everyone know that after consulting with my representation, I've made the difficult decision to forego playing in the World Cup in China this summer," the statement read.
"I will still be heading back home to Australia to host my camps as well as train and play with the Boomers in the upcoming exhibition games. I'm really excited about the talent we have on the Boomers quad, especially moving closer to 2020 where I will be honoured and humbled to represent my country on the world's biggest sporting stage at the Olympics in Tokyo.
Ultimately we decided it was best that I use the time in September to return to Philadelphia to acquaint myself with my new teammates and prepare for the upcoming NBA season.
"I appreciate Basketball Australia for their support and understanding. I look forward to working with the Boomers coaches and teammates over the next few weeks to start working towards out ultimate team goal of winning a medal at the Olympics."
Australia's final World Cup warm-up games are against the mighty Team USA at Marvel Stadium on August 24 and August 26.
Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis has held out hope Simmons would make himself available for Australia this year, but Simmons presence on the court against the USA could hinder the Boomers' World Cup preparations as he will not be joining the team for the tournament in China.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on Sunday reported Simmons is "doubtful" to play for Australia this year, preferencing his training with the Sixers.
Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons is "doubtful" to play for Australia in the FIBA World Cup this summer, his agent Rich Paul tells ESPN. Simmons is more likely now to spend his full offseason preparing only for the Sixers season -- free of national team responsibilities.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 13, 2019
Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis had previously said Basketball Australia would continue its "dialogue" with Paul in the hope Simmons can be convinced to backflip on his first backflip.
"This is not new to us and we will continue our dialogue with Ben, and his agent Rich Paul, and see how it plays out," he said.
"There is a genuine desire from Ben to play and we hope that circumstances unfold favourably to allow him to do so."
With his max contract extension locked up, questions arose about what exactly is holding Simmons back from being involved in the World Cup in China.
ESPN NBA analyst Amin Elhassan said on Tuesday's The Jump he was "shocked" to hear Simmons had decided not to be involved with the Australian team after previously releasing two videos on social media where he declared he was going to play for the Boomers and even teased with a short clip of him wearing Boomers colours.
The 2019 World Cup has been scheduled later in the year than recent tournaments, leaving NBA stars with almost no time off before they are due back for pre-season training.
"I was more shocked about another Klutch client and that's Ben Simmons because Anthony Davis has a legitimate reason," Elhassan said on Tuesday.
Ben Simmons and Anthony Davis are both sitting out this fall's World Cup - good idea? bad idea? Well, according to today's panel, that depends on which one you're talking about. pic.twitter.com/qtpXwq0Ygq— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) July 15, 2019
"Anthony Davis isn't going for Team USA because he's entering the last season of his contract and he has to lock it down. Also, let's be honest, for him not to turn out for Team USA, it's not going to vastly change their chances of a gold medal.
"Australia has a real chance at medalling and Ben Simmons, who just signed a mammoth max deal extension today.
"This is a bigger deal to me that he's not playing because Australia needs him and what's his excuse? I'm getting ready for a championship? You and pretty much every other player who's playing the world cup."
Meanwhile, Philadelphia celebrated its new contract with Simmons by cutting together a montage of Simmons incredible rise from No. 1 draft pick to a max contract player.
According to reports the new deal does not include any early get-out clauses and includes a 15 per cent trade kicker that will see Simmons get a massive pay-out if he is ever shipped out of Philly.
The deal also reportedly includes Designated Rookie Extension clauses that will see Simmons trigger further bonus payments if he is able to hit particular performance incentives, including being selected in any All-NBA team next season.
"We expect him to continue grow and succeed for seasons to come. Ben positively impacts the game in so many ways and we look forward to continuing our championship pursuits with him as one of our leaders," Sixers general manager Elton Brand said.
"Ben Simmons is an important piece of our core and he is one of the NBA's most dynamic and talented young players."