Ben Simmons, star of the Philadelphia 76ers, informed the Australian Olympic team that he will not participate in the Tokyo 2020 Games.
Australian national team coach Brian Goorjian said in a statement that he and the team “understand and support the decision” by Simmons.
“The best thing for everyone right now is that (Ben) builds on that skill pack and improves in a couple of areas for his next NBA season, but the Boomers are always there for you,” Goorjian said. “We want him to know that in this time of need, the culture and the players here support him.”
Sources told ESPN’s Brian Windhordst last week that Simmons was hesitant about participating in the Olympics because he planned to focus on developing his skills. The Australians are medal contenders and are scheduled to start training next week in Los Angeles and face Team USA in two exhibition games in July in Las Vegas.
Simmons, 24, battled at the free throw line in the postseason, dropping his ERA from 60 percent in the regular season to 34.2 in the Playoffs. He also did not attempt a field goal in the fourth period of Games 4-7 of the series in which the 76ers were eliminated by the Atlanta Hawks. Simmons scored 19 points overall in the last three games of that series.
Sixers coach Doc Rivers said last week that the team has a plan to address Simmons’ shooting technique problems that involve doing “the right job” and doing it “the right way.”
Also last week, sources pointed out to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Sixers management and Simmons’ agent Rich Paul, CEO of Klutch Sports, met in Chicago at the pre-draft combine to begin evaluating next steps. in the Rookie of the Year race in 2018.
Teams have used pre-draft camp in Chicago to gauge the Sixers’ interest in trade packages, sources told Wojnarowski, though Philadelphia remains reluctant to undo the Simmons and Joel Embiid pair without maximizing compensation and exhausting all the chances to improve Simmons’ offensive performance.