Why Ben Simmons and Rich Paul didn’t flinch when the 76ers withheld $8.25 million
A GAME OF CHICKEN

Why Ben Simmons and Rich Paul didn’t flinch when the 76ers withheld $8.25 million

“If there’s anyone comfortable with being uncomfortable, it’s Daryl Morey.” One thing everyone talking about the Philly-Simmons’ stand-off agrees on is that Daryl Morey is the least likely GM to flinch. His track record of underestimating chemistry and being OK with uncomfortable situations makes Morey the perfect candidate for not giving in to a superstar forcing their way out (and dictating terms while doing so).

Morey’s pressure points

That’s absolutely true, but all those comments implied people are betting on Morey to win the stand-off, hyping him up as the favorite. In short, two factors could make Morey cave. Either his official bosses, the owners of the 76ers, or his de facto boss, team superstar Joel Embiid, say they are tired and exhausted from the drama. If the 76ers GM fails to talk them down at that point, he may have to accept a deal for less than a superstar Morey’s been waiting for. So the play for the Simmons camp is to drag this out and keep it in the public eye – Josh Harris’ and Joel Embiid’s patience are the weak points.

What remained unexplored is the Simmons camp’s appetite for being uncomfortable, and it’s larger than you’d think. The main form of pressure the Sixers have is withholding pay. As Basketball News covered a few days ago, the 76ers didn’t pay Simmons the $8.25 million he was supposed to receive on October 1 and placed it in an escrow account. Klutch will definitely challenge that move, but while it’s being resolved, Simmons is not getting money from the 76ers. So as Morey has to make sure Harris and Embiid are cool when they get the 100th question about Simmons from the media, Rich Paul has to do the same with Simmons when he checks his bank account.

The holdout master

This is where Mark Termini enters the picture. In ’13, Termini began working with Rich Paul and has been labeled as the mastermind behind their innovative contract negotiations, such as LeBron‘s short contracts with Cleveland or the fact most Klutch clients receive a lot of their salaries upfront. His experience influenced a lot of the way Klutch does business, and the thing Termini is most famous for is crucial when it comes to the Simmons situation.

Back in 1992, Termini represented Jim Jackson, who was selected 4th in the Draft by the Dallas Mavericks. Rookies negotiated their contract in those days, and Jackson wasn’t satisfied with the offer the Mavs made, so he decided to hold out. What proceeded was the longest holdout in NBA history – Jackson missed 54 games that season. During that time, the Mavs were applying pressure by telling Jackson he was ruining his value and that he wouldn’t get paid for the games he missed. Sounds familiar?

But Termini assured his client he would get him his money, and he came through. Jackson signed a six-year, $20 million contract including a full salary for the ’92/’93 season even though he played only 28 games. The holdout didn’t affect his client’s earnings at all. In fact, it was the most lucrative contract for a rookie guard ever at that time. Termini actually managed a holdout with a Klutch client as well. You probably forgot that Tristan Thompson held out before getting the $82 million from the Cavs.

So while the 76ers have the one GM that is likely to stand his ground, Rich Paul learned from the ultimate holdout expert in the NBA (Termini left Klutch in 2020). That empowers Paul to tell Simmons he should call the Sixers bluff and assure him that he will get all his money when the situation is resolved.

It may be a long time before we see Ben Simmons on an NBA court, but it sure won’t be boring.