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Ben Simmons one step closer to mega-deal

Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons in action during the 2018 NBA China Games Zhong Zhi/Getty Images

Ben Simmons is a step closer to the mega millions of a "max" NBA deal after the Philadelphia 76ers exercised their fourth-year option on his rookie contract.

It means Simmons is locked in with the 76ers for next season -- no surprise given the 2016 No. 1 draft pick's stellar career start -- and it positions him for a massive pay rise after that.

Simmons will be eligible for a five-year maximum contract extension in July 2019, with current NBA projections estimating that will be worth $A223 million.

Securing Simmons long-term will be a major priority for the 76ers, who are building their resurgent team around the 22-year-old Australian -- the reigning NBA rookie of the year -- and dominant centre Joel Embiid.

After next season, he will become a restricted free agent, meaning only the 76ers will be able to offer him a max deal. Others would have to offer less.

That looming contract negotiation is just one big basketball decision facing Simmons over the coming 12 months.

He is yet to confirm whether he will join the Australian team for their landmark games against Team USA in Melbourne next August.

Those two games kick off a huge 12 months in Australian basketball, with the 2019 World Cup in China and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to follow.

Simmons has spoken freely about his desire to play in the Olympics and he looms as crucial to the Boomers' big hopes of a maiden medal at the Tokyo Games.

A max NBA contract would bring added pressure with its great wealth if the 76ers try to safeguard their investment from the added injury risk of playing for Australia.

The NBA allow their players to play internationally, although a spate of recent injuries to star athletes has led some, including former NBA commissioner David Stern, to question that.

Brett Brown, the 76ers coach, well understands the pressures that await his 208cm point guard, having coached the Boomers for four years including the 2012 London Olympics.

"You understand completely the passion and responsibilities these players feel towards their nation. There is internal, domestic pressure," Brown told AAP.

"They expect you to play, or it's unpatriotic. That's a fact.

"People feel the burden to represent their country. Then sometimes people are out of contract. Sometimes they are trying to sign a contract. Sometimes they have the wear and tear of an NBA season, and then the players limp into the national team. The country has to respect that.

"It's hard. I think the NBA owners really deserve a lot of credit for allowing these things to happen."