Ben Simmons could be in for a big payday sooner rather than later.
"Philly could justify paying a fourth option the max because [Tobias] Harris might not be a fourth option there forever. Things change fast in the NBA. It's not inevitable that Harris, [Jimmy] Butler, Joel Embiid, and Ben Simmons are all on the Sixers in two, or three, or whatever seasons. (Simmons is up for an extension, and that max deal could come fast once free agency starts, sources say.)"
Simmons is currently under a four-year, $26.6 million contract, per Spotrac, and is scheduled to be a restricted free agent in 2020.
The Sixers drafted Simmons with the top overall pick in 2016, but the point guard didn't take the floor until the 2017-18 campaign because of a broken foot. However, he earned Rookie of the Year honors once he was healthy enough to play.
Last season, Simmons averaged 16.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 1.4 steals across 79 regular-season starts. The knock on his game has been the absence of three-point shooting as well as a career free-throw percentage of 58.3.
"We've said it repeatedly and we'll keep saying it: We'll continue to do what it takes to bring a championship to Philly, including spending into the luxury tax," Sixers managing partner Josh Harris said at the team's exit interviews, according to The Athletic's Derek Bodner.
Jimmy Butler is expected to decline his $19.84 million player option to explore free agency, and Tobias Harris is also set to enter unrestricted free agency. If both choose to stay in Philadelphia, the salary implications could be historic.
"It is possible that Simmons, Embiid, Butler and Harris will all earn between $33 million and $40 million over the next three to five seasons," USA Today's Yossi Gozlan wrote. "That would eclipse any tax payment Oklahoma City or even the Golden State Warriors have ever approached."
Having all of that money tied up in four of five starters would inhibit Philly's ability to round out the roster.
"The Sixers hope he'll eventually become a complete player, but for now, they must acquire players to fit alongside him," Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote.
If the Sixers are willing to extend Simmons a max deal as soon as he's eligible, the franchise must be confident in what he can individually brings to floor regardless of who they have around him.