The Brooklyn Nets just cannot get out of their own way.
Amid Kyrie Irving’s suspension, there reportedly had been building frustration in recent weeks, and there still is concern within the organization regarding Ben Simmons’ availability and effort.
Simmons, who missed the entire 2021-2022 season for mostly what he cited as mental health reasons, has already missed five of the Nets’ 15 games this season with a knee issue.
However, when he’s been on the court, he’s been an absolute shell of himself. His 5.8 points per game are close to 10 less than his career average, and he’s shooting just 48.1 percent from the floor — he’s a career .558 shooter.
Simmons’ play was apparently brought up in a recent players-only meeting, where Simmons said it was an “honest” conversation.
Upon being traded to the Nets from Philadelphia in last year’s blockbuster, Simmons was working toward a return, but a lingering back injury forced him to not return.
Simmons knows what kind of hits he’ll take by fans and the media every time he misses a game, but for now, he’s shrugging it off.
“I get [the skepticism], but I think the one thing with me is that I’m a competitor. I want to win and play. So, I’m going to do what I can to get out there,” Simmons told The Athletic. “… There’s only so much I can really do [about perception]. You can’t make people believe, you know? They weren’t there when I was on the floor and couldn’t walk [because of his back]. They weren’t there when I was in the ambulance getting taken to the hospital. People weren’t there, so they don’t know. That was the first episode I had against Milwaukee. That was the original trigger of it … right before COVID, the start of my back issues.”
“But that’s a part of my journey. There’s times when I couldn’t walk. I had a dead foot, couldn’t sleep. A lot of stuff was going on with me, physically, to where it was tough. But there’s only so much I can say for somebody to believe, you know?” he continued.
The Nets fired head coach Steve Nash just seven games into the season and were reportedly set on acquiring suspended Celtics head coach Ime Udoka before promoting Jacque Vaughn.
However, the Nets were embarrassed on Tuesday night, falling to the Sacramento Kings, 153-121. It was, though, a bright night for Simmons as he scored 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting.
The 6-9 Nets will face the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night.