It looks like the Ben Simmons' debut in the Boomers yellow and green will not be happening this year - his withdrawal from the Boomers' exhibition games in Australia has been announced.
“After talking with coach Andrej, we both agreed it was better for me to not participate in this year’s 2019 World Cup and exhibition games," Simmons said, via a Basketball Australia release.
“With our focus being to win a medal at the 2020 Olympics, the Boomers’ preparation in the lead up to the world championships is of the utmost importance and me not playing allows the team to create the chemistry they need to compete at the highest level and qualify for the Olympics.
“I want to thank Basketball Australia for their continued support and I’m committed and excited to compete in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.”
Update: Hours later, on a conference call conducted during Sunday afternoon, Boomers head coach Andrej Lemanis confirmed the decision stemmed mostly from Simmons' end.
“Ben had the opportunity to really think through everything that’s going on in his world, and also what it meant in terms of preparation on behalf of the team,” Lemanis said. “Given the fact that we’ve only got four games of preparation, it just seemed that it didn’t make a lot of sense to try and cram that into everything else he was doing as well. At the end of the day, it was something that we spoke about — there’s a lot going on; a lot of forces pulling at Ben — and it’s just, this is the most sensible decision at the end of the day.”
“I don’t try to understand everything that goes on in Ben’s world.
“All I know is that there’s a lot of forces pulling at him. We’ve had previous experience with this. I know everyone’s obviously focused on Ben at the moment but, the reality is, even in this campaign, Ben’s not the only player affected by this."
Boomers teammate Patty Mills confirmed their support for Simmons, regardless.
“We as his teammates respect his decision and we understand his situation has changed. We appreciate his continued support and willingness to still be a valuable part of the team as we prepare for our ultimate goal of winning a medal at the World Champs for the first time.
“All of the playing group also understand the importance of the long-term bigger picture for our Boomers program and the next generation of talented Aussie players.
“Ben will be next in line to play a significant leadership role in carrying on the legacy of our team and what it means to represent the Green and Gold as a Boomer with pride, which we all have done for so long.”
This eases the Boomers' quandary on roster decisions, and will make it easier for them to plan minute distribution. The squad will be able to play with their actual rotations and prepare for the FIBA 2019 World Cup tournament, to be held in China this year.
The Australian All-Star point guard signed a 5-year, $170 million extension with the Sixers in the recent off-season, and had earlier announced his intention to play for the Boomers' exhibition games in Australia, but not the World Cup.