Player empowerment has been a two-way street lately in the NBA. In one hand, it's great to see stars speaking up and doing what they feel it's best for their careers, just like the teams often do when they trade them away.
On the other, it seems like players feel like they don't need to honor their contracts anymore. Regardless of how much money they make, they're using their leverage to force their way out of teams, and that could set a dangerous precedent.
That seemed to be the case with Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers. Eventually, the franchise didn't cave in to his demands, withheld his pay, and even coach Doc Rivers told him to fulfill his contractual obligations.
NBA Rumors: Doc Rivers Got Heated, Blasted Ben Simmons Over His Holdout Threats
(Transcript via Bleacher Report)
"From the initial conversations in Chicago, when Paul found Morey and Brand on separate occasions to first levy Simmons' trade request during the week of the NBA Draft Combine, Klutch figures maintained the Defensive Player of the Year runner-up planned to skip training camp. The Sixers have stood firm that they don't necessarily want to move Simmons and are only open to trading him for one of the few players in a tier above Simmons, such as Damian Lillard, or James Harden before him. The Sixers still believe the dominant defensive pairing between him and Embiid can be the backbone of a 2022 title team.
For that, dating back to those Combine dialogues, Philadelphia was adamant in its plans to withhold Simmons' pay for not complying with the terms of the five-year, $170-plus million agreement he signed in July 2019. Later, at Paul's home, Rivers even shouted, “It's in your f--king contract” to report and play for Philadelphia, sources told B/R."
This was due to happen eventually. Players are doing whatever they want nowadays and that puts franchises and the league in a tough position. At some point, a team had to stand up and not cave in.