Much of the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving era of the Brooklyn Nets was filled with drama, with the focus being on everything but basketball. The Nets may be significantly less talented without Irving and Durant, but there seems to be a breath of fresh air, knowing that Brooklyn is starting a rebuilding phase with young solid pieces. In the aftermath of the deal, Nets forward Ben Simmons wished Durant well in Phoenix but says he is happy to have teammates who “just want to play basketball”.
“Obviously, I’ve had a crazy year-and-a-half so I kind of just want to play basketball and get back to feeling like myself. So it’s good. I wish KD well. He’s a tremendous basketball player. I have a lot of respect for him… But I’m happy with the guys we’ve got here,” Simmons said via Barbara Baker of Newsday.
“We got a great group of guys, guys who just want to play basketball. So I’m excited just to play. I’m kind of tired of just, you know, any focus being away from basketball.”
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Ben Simmons on Nets’ New Look: ‘It’s Good Energy Here’
The Nets will take on the New York Knicks in the battle for city supremacy for the first time in the post-Durant, Irving era On February 13.
Ahead of their clash, Simmons, now the lone All-Star on The Nets roster says that although the superstar era may be over in Brooklyn, the Nets still have solid pieces on their roster. He also notes that there is now “good energy” surrounding the team.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that are happy to be here and just want to play and win. So they compete. So it’s good; it’s good energy here,” Simmons said on February 13 per Brian Lewis of the New York Post.
Mikal Bridges Has Opportunity to Become a Star
After dealing with three and a half seasons of Kyrie Irving, Nets owner Joe Tsai has to be thrilled about adding the newly acquired Mikal Bridges. During Irving’s entire Nets tenure, he never played more than 54 games in a season.
Bridges on the other hand has earned a reputation as the NBA’s iron man. Since he entered the league in 2018 he has never played less than 72 games in a season and twice has gone the distance and played the entire 82-game game regular season. That is almost unheard of in an era where injuries can happen at the drop of a hat.
Bridges may not be an All-Star talent like Irving or Durant but to be fair, he hasn’t had the opportunity to become one. Playing in Phoenix on a Suns roster that featured stars such as Devin Booker, DeAndre Ayton, and Chris Paul, who in the eyes of many is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, Bridges was often the third or fourth option on offense.
With him being one of the centerpieces of the blockbuster trade that helped send Durant to Phoenix, it would be safe to assume he will be one of the focal points in Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn’s offense. Now that he’s been given his opportunity to shine offensively, coupled with the fact that he is already one of the most elite defenders in the league, the sky is the limit for the young Bridges.