According to the Daily Telegraph, the reigning NBA rookie of the year is yet to formally commit to playing in China due to the fact he is likely to be in deep contract discussions with his team, the Philadelphia 76ers, as the World Cup begins.
“Ben wants to play for the Boomers but in terms of the World Cup he has a pretty important off-season coming up in the NBA,” said Australian coach Andrej Lemanis.
“He needs to navigate himself through all of that before he can confirm his availability.
“I would suggest the World Cup is less likely but that is a question for Ben. But he has indicated he is really positive about the national team and we’ve got the door open for when he is ready to walk through it. We’d welcome Ben with open arms.”
It is believed Simmons will be eligible for a five year maximum contract extension with the 76ers, worth $223 million, when he begins negotiations next year.
Simmons moved to Newcastle when he was 18 months old, after his father, a Melbourne Tigers legend who came to Australia to play in the National Basketball League in 1989, accepted a contract to play and coach in the city.
Simmons began playing basketball at the age of seven in the Newcastle Hunters’ under-12 representative team and played two more years for Lake Macquarie and Newcastle.
At the age of 10, Simmons returned to Melbourne with his family and began playing junior basketball for the Knox Raiders.