When the Nets acquired Ben Simmons in the blockbuster trade that sent James Harden to Philadelphia, the hope was a change of scenery was just what the former No. 1 overall pick needed to get back into All-Star form.
But that hope has apparently started to fade within the organization.
According to a report from Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic, “the frustration surrounding Simmons has been building in recent weeks within the organization,” with teammates and coaches “concerned” about both his availability and his level of play when he has been on the court.
“I get (the skepticism), but I think the one thing with me is that I’m a competitor,” Simmons told The Athletic. “I want to win and play. So I’m gonna do what I can to get out there.”
The 26-year-old Simmons has dealt with a number of health issues during his time as a Net, including a back injury that began when he was with the Philadelphia 76ers. He’s now dealing with left knee soreness, which he tells The Athletic is currently a bigger problem than his back, and has missed five of the Nets’ first 15 games.
“There’s only so much I can really do (about perception),” Simmons told The Athletic. “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 (after a Feb. 22, 2020 game at Milwaukee). 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?”
Simmons scored a season-best 11 points over 20 minutes in Tuesday’s 153-121 loss to the Sacramento Kings, grabbing five rebounds and adding three assists. But his overall numbers with Brooklyn have been nowhere near his career totals, as he’s averaged just 5.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 5.6 assists while losing his spot in the starting five. He’s also shooting a career low 48.1 percent from the floor and 47.1 percent from the free-throw-line.
Source: Yahoo Sports