Rich Paul: 76ers' tactics adding to Simmons' mental health issues

Jesse D. Garrabrant / NBA / Getty Images

Ben Simmons' agent, Rich Paul, believes the pressure that the Philadelphia 76ers have placed on his client to cooperate with team doctors to address his ongoing mental health issues has had an adverse impact on the disgruntled All-Star.

"I truly believe the fines, the targeting, the negative publicity shined on the issue - that's very unnecessary and has furthered the mental health issues for Ben," the Klutch Sports founder told The Athletic's Shams Charania. "Either you help Ben or come out and say he's lying. Which one is it?"

The team denied it's forcing Simmons to play or accusing him of misrepresenting his condition but do believe he should participate in team activities until health professionals confirm he cannot play.

In late August, Simmons reportedly told 76ers leadership that he wished to be traded and would not report to the team's preseason training camp. However, after the Sixers began withholding paychecks from Simmons' five-year, $177-million contract, he ended his holdout - showing up to the arena unannounced Oct. 11.

Simmons was then officially suspended for the 76ers' first game of the season Oct. 20, reportedly resulting in a $1.4-million fine. Since then, he has been listed as out for personal reasons, reportedly after telling his coaches and teammates that he wasn't mentally ready to take the court.

The 76ers initially halted Simmons' fines following the revelations about his current mental state but are said to have resumed the punitive measures last Friday due to his lack of communication surrounding the evaluation of his condition and his ongoing treatment efforts.

Simmons approved the 76ers' mental health professional to speak with his personal therapist and has encouraged the two sides to collaborate, according to Paul.

Even still, the 25-year-old's continued absence will cost him $360,000 per game missed, and he has no timetable to return.

"In this case, we have to get Ben help and not put finances above mental health," Paul added. "As an agent, I understand contractual obligations and I hold myself accountable in this business. But if someone is telling you something, we can no longer turn a blind eye in today's world.

"This is no longer about a trade. This is about finding a place where we can help Ben get back to his mental strength and get back on the floor."

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Rich Paul: 76ers' tactics adding to Simmons' mental health issues
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