Ben Simmons’ focus shifts to whether he will commit to the Boomers’ Tokyo Olympic campaign after his Philadelphia 76ers bombed out of the NBA playoffs in disappointing fashion.
Simmons’ future at the 76ers is also in doubt after he failed to produce in the big moments in a Game 7 Eastern Conference semi-final loss to Atlanta.
The Melbourne-born guard finished with five points (took just four shots), eight rebounds and 13 assists in his 35 minutes on the court.
Simmons was selfless on the offensive end, but he failed to score the important baskets when the game was there to be won down the stretch.
This included a crucial play in the fourth quarter when under the basket he passed to a teammate instead of going up for the dunk.
Simmons spoke post-game and accepted blame for his substandard form.
“I had a bad series and I expect that (criticism),” Simmons said.
“It is Philly, but I love being in Philly.
“I love this organisation. The fans are great people.”
The big question is now if Simmons will commit to Australia for the Tokyo Olympics, which begin on July 25.
Members of the Boomers squad will assemble in Los Angeles at a drop-in centre to start training from June 24.
Australian officials will assess the squad before naming a final 12-man team for Tokyo in early July.
The final 12 will participate in exhibition matches against the United States, Nigeria, and Argentina in Las Vegas as a last hitout before departing for Japan.
Simmons’ post-season struggles, especially his poor free-throw shooting, has prompted calls for Philadelphia to trade him.
Respected voices in the NBA believe it’s inevitable that the 76ers move on the star Aussie, who was the centrepiece of the 76ers’ James Harden pursuit.
Simmons’ battles in the post-season could also have an impact on his value in the market, although he remains one of the NBA’s premier passers and defenders.
76ers coach Doc Rivers was asked post-game if Simmons could be point guard on a championship team.
“I don‘t know the answer to that right now,” Rivers said.
“Obviously he struggled at the free-throw line and that became a factor in this series, there is no doubt about that.
“I still believe in him (Ben), but we have work to do. We are going to have to get in the gym and put a lot of work in and then go forward.”
Simmons’ ability to be a big-game performer in the playoffs has been strongly questioned.
In his final 11 games of the season, he was five for five from the field in fourth quarters, while he also became the first player this season to miss 10 free throws in a single game.
Renowned poor free-throw shooter Shaquille O’Neal attempted at least 50 free throws in 13 playoffs, with his worst percentage 39.3 per cent.
Simmons’ post-season percentage is 32.8 per cent, and he conceded his struggles were in the mind.
“Definitely, I think, mental,” Simmons said previously.