Ben Simmons and Klutch Sports have reached a mutual decision to part ways, according to an ESPN report.
The struggling Brooklyn Nets star is still playing under the $177 million, five-year deal Rich Paul’s agency negotiated with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2019.
Since then, Simmons’ once-promising career has nosedived, as he’s faced criticism over his shooting struggles and inability to mesh with other NBA stars, such as Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid and now-former Nets teammates, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
The Nets are currently sixth in the Eastern Conference and have an excellent chance at reaching the postseason. However, their chances of advancing in the playoffs have suffered since the trade deadline, when Irving was traded to the Dallas Mavericks and Durant was sent to the Phoenix Suns.
Without the two elite players, there has been some speculation that the Nets might shut down Simmons for the remainder of the season as he struggles to regain the form that made him a three-time All-Star from 2019 through 2021.
Simmons’ once-promising career has nosedived as he’s faced criticism over his shooting struggles and inability to mesh with other NBA stars, such as Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid and now-former Nets teammates, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving
Ben Simmons (right) and his then-agent Rich Paul talk at Madison Square Garden in 2016
However, Nets coach Jacque Vaughn appeared to eliminate that possibility when speaking to reporters on Thursday, saying there has been ‘zero’ discussions about sidelining Simmons.
‘We expect him to be back,’ Vaughn told reporters.
Simmons has been dealing with back and knee problems and has been out of the Nets’ lineup since February 15.
Always considered among the game’s better perimeter defenders, the 6-foot-9 Melbourne native has struggled offensively since the 2020-21 season, when he took a large share of the blame for Philadelphia’s playoff loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
Despite making only 15 of 45 free throws in the series, Simmons was upset to have the finger pointed at him, according to multiple reports, and decided to demand a trade out of Philadelphia the following season.
While battling back issues, Simmons ended up holding out from 76ers camp amid a bitter standoff between the agency and the team.
When his absence lingered into the season, Paul revealed Simmons was battling mental health issues.
‘Ben has a mental issue, let’s support him,’ Paul told The Athletic at the time. ‘I’m happy he got to a place where he realized and accepted help. I understand it’s a business, but even in business, you need humanity.
‘This is no longer about a trade,’ Paul continued. ‘This is about finding a place where we can help Ben get back to his mental strength and get back on the floor. I want him on the floor playing the game that he loves. I want Ben on the floor whether that’s in a 76ers uniform or any other uniform, that’s not up to me, but I want him in a state where he can resume play. We want to cooperate and want to work him back on the floor.’
Simons sat out the remainder of the 2021-22 season with back issues, and has since disappointed while playing sporadically for the Nets in 2022-23. Currently Simmons is averaging just 6.9 points in 26.3 minutes of action per game
The 76ers ultimately dealt Simmons, Andre Drummond and Seth Curry, as well as two first-round picks, to the Nets for James Harden in February of 2022, but things didn’t improve.
Simons sat out the remainder of the 2021-22 season with back issues, and has since disappointed while playing sporadically for the Nets in 2022-23.
Currently Simmons is averaging just 6.9 points in 26.3 minutes of action per game.
What’s more, his famously poor outside shooting hasn’t improved, allowing defenders to sag off of Simmons and prevent him from driving the lane.
Paul, the boyfriend of singer Adele, is a longtime friend of LeBron James, whom he also represents, along with Lakers star Anthony Davis, Warriors forward Draymond Green, and Sacramento Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox.
Klutch Sports founder Rich Paul (C) poses with NBA Players Ben Simmons, Tristan Thompson, John Wall and Lebron James attend attends the Klutch Sports Group “More Than A Game” Dinner Presented by Remy Martin at Beauty & Essex on February 17, 2018 in Los Angeles