The prospect of Australia NBA superstar Ben Simmons returning to the Philadelphia 76ers have improved in recent days amid ongoing talks between the team and his agent, according to multiple reports.
The Sixers continue to seek out possible trade partners for Simmons but are also trying to hammer out a path for the 6ft 11in All-Star guard to remain in Philadelphia.
The reports are the first since the Sixers withheld $US8.25m ($A11.20 m) from Simmons in response to his holdout. Simmons’ contract called for him receiving two payments of $US8.25m before the season gets underway. He was due to receive the first payment on August 2. The team put the money in escrow, from which they will deduct fines Simmons racks up from his holdout.
Simmons’ fines are up to $US1m ($A1.4 m) once he misses Monday night’s pre-season game against Brooklyn.
Simmons hasn’t talked directly with 76ers’ officials since late August, when he requested a trade and reportedly made it clear he would not play for the team again.
A three-time All-Star, Simmons has averages of 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game over his four NBA seasons. The 25-year-old Australian is under contract for four more years after signing a five-year deal worth more than $US177 million ($A240 million) in 2020.
In last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals against the Hawks, Simmons passed on a wide-open dunk late in Game 7. The 76ers ended up losing to close their season.
Sixers center Joel Embiid said last week that the entire situation involving Simmons heading into the new season was “borderline disrespectful.”
The Sixers open the regular season October 20 at New Orleans.