Australian basketballer Ben Simmons has pulled out of the Tokyo Olympics to spend his NBA off-season working on his skills.
His coach Brian Goorjian said it’s been a “pretty rough time” for the 24-year-old All-Star who had inconsistent performances during Philadelphia’s early playoffs exit.
Simmons indicated that while he remained committed to representing the Boomers now was not the time.
“I have spoken with Ben and whilst we wanted him to be a part of our team, we understand and support his decision and he has made it clear that this is something that he wants to be a part of in the future,” Boomers coach Brian Goorjian said.
“I know it is something that he wanted to do, but the timing just hasn’t worked,” he said.
“The best thing for everybody right now is for him to go on and develop that skill package and improve in a couple of areas for his next season in the NBA, but the Boomers are always here for him.
“We wanted him to know that in his time of need, the culture and the guys here are behind him and support him.”
Boomers great Andrew Bogut said his decision was a “shame”.
Legendary Australian basketballer Andrew Gaze had urged Simmons to reconsider.
“The greatest education I had was being involved in the Australian team, it is a culture like no other,” Gaze told SEN.
“I would implore him to do whatever it takes to be involved in that.”
Simmons copped much of blame for the 76ers’ loss to Atlanta in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Australian’s struggles at the free-throw line impacting his confidence to the point where he began passing up wide open shots.
There has been much speculation the former No.1 draft pick will be traded this off-season, with 76ers coach Doc Rivers admitting after the game seven loss to the Hawks that he was not sure if his team could win a championship with Simmons running the team – although he has since said he is “bullish in Ben still”.