Australia’s hopes of claiming a maiden basketball World Cup have been dealt a blow, with Ben Simmons opting out of the tournament to focus on his NBA preparations.
Simmons, who confirmed a lucrative contract extension with the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday, said he had made the “difficult” decision to skip the August 31-September 15 tournament in China after consulting his representation. “I’m really excited about the talent we have on the Boomers squad, especially moving closer to 2020 where I will be honoured and humbled to represent my country on the world’s biggest sporting stage at the Olympics in Tokyo,” the 22-year-old said in a statement.
“Ultimately, we decided it was best that I use the time in September to return to Philadelphia to acquaint myself with my new teammates and prepare for the upcoming NBA season.”
Melbourne native Simmons’s statement came hours after Philadelphia confirmed he had signed through to the 2024/25 season, a deal media reported at $170 million, the highest ever for an Australian athlete.
Selected with the number one overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, the guard-forward improved in points (16.9), rebounds (8.8) and assists (7.7) to earn All-Star selection in his second season. Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson is the only other player in NBA history to total as many points, rebounds and assists as Simmons through his first two seasons.
Even without Simmons, Australia’s ‘Boomers’ team are likely to be a force in China, with current and former NBA players including Andrew Bogut, Joe Ingles, Patty Mills, Aron Baynes and Matthew Dellavedova set to be included in their squad.
Simmons said he would play Australia’s home World Cup warmups against the United States and Canada in Perth and Melbourne next month.
Australia have been drawn in Group H in China along with Canada, Senegal and Lithuania.
The Boomers play their opener against Canada on Sept. 1 in Dongguan.
Knicks finalize deals
with Bullock, Morris
The New York Knicks finalised contracts with free agent forwards Reggie Bullock and Marcus Morris on Tuesday.
The team announced that the deals were completed but did not reveal contract terms. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Bullock landed to a two-year, $8.2 million deal with a team option for the second season. The two sides initially agreed to a two-year, $21 million pact, but unspecified medical issues forced them to rework the numbers, per Wojnarowski. Morris’ deal is for one year and $15 million, according to multiple reports.
“With Reggie and Marcus, we are adding two more versatile, hard-nosed and accomplished players to an already improved roster,” Knicks general manager Scott Perry said in a press release.
“We value both players’ perimeter shooting ability and their strong presence on the court and in the locker room. We’re excited to have them in New York and are confident they will excel playing for this team under Coach (David) Fizdale.”
Bullock, 28, averaged 11.3 points in 63 games (60 starts) last season, split between the Detroit Pistons (44 games) and the Los Angeles Lakers (19).
He has a career average of 6.8 points over 272 games (119 starts) in six NBA seasons.
Morris spent the past two seasons with the Boston Celtics and averaged 13.9 points and 6.1 rebounds in 75 games (53 starts) in the 2018-19 season.
He originally agreed to join the San Antonio Spurs this offseason but changed his mind, choosing the Knicks instead. Morris, 29, has career averages of 11.5 points and 4.6 rebounds in 545 games (292 starts) over eight NBA
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