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Lowe: New CBA ‘side letter’ gives Ben Simmons extra year of service for holdout

The repercussions from Simmons holdout in 2020-21 continue

Brooklyn Nets v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Zach Lowe reports Wednesday night that the new Collective Bargaining Agreement contains a “side letter” specifically granting Ben Simmons a year of NBA service for his holdout season of 2021-22 despite not playing a single game for either the 76ers or Nets.

Lowe wrote:

The NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement, released late last month ahead of free agency, came with a previously undisclosed side letter indicating Ben Simmons has received credit for a year of service for the season in which he held out from the Philadelphia 76ers and was eventually traded to the Brooklyn Nets, sources familiar with the matter told ESPN on Wednesday.

The 560-page CBA governs NBA transactions over the next seven years and is a public document, but the “side letter” was not released at the time of the ratification. The extra year has significant benefits for Simmons, Lowe noted.

Years of service come into play when determining whether players are eligible for maximum contracts of certain sizes and for other benefits. Counting the 2021-22 season at issue, Simmons now has seven official years of service in the NBA.

Lowe also reported there were some in the NBA who didn’t want Simmons to get credit for the holdout, apparently fearing it could set a precedent.

Officials from several teams had argued Simmons should not receive credit for the 2021-22 season, sources said.

Simmons held out through the trade deadline in March 2022, citing mental health issues, as he sought a trade out of Philly. After being dealt to the Nets, Simmons did not play in Brooklyn either after his back issues worsened and he underwent back surgery shortly after the season ended. Simmons was fined $20 million by the 76ers for his holdout, but the two sides agreed to a settlement that reduced the amount owed. The terms of settlement remain confidential.