On February 10, the Brooklyn Nets executed a blockbuster trade that sent James Harden and Paul Millsap to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and 3-time All-Star Ben Simmons. The Nets made that trade, aware that Simmons, having such a long layover since he last played, would need a ramp-up period, and thus would not be immediately available to play. But the 3-time All-Star never got his opportunity to suit up for Brooklyn this season. A herniated disc in his back caused Simmons’ return date to suffer several setbacks before the Nets were ultimately eliminated in the first round by the Boston Celtics.
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Kyrie Irving Gets Candid About Ben Simmons Fit With Nets
Simmons is expected to be ready to go at the start of Nets training camp this fall. This also means the highly anticipated debut of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and Simmons is on the horizon. During a Twitch live stream on May 9, Kyrie sounded off on what he thinks he, Simmons, and Durant’s roles will be in the Nets’ offense.
“I had to have a bigger understanding of playing different roles out on the court,” Irving said during a livestream via @NetsKingdomAJ on Twitter. “So, do I feel like me KD, and Ben [Simmons] are enough? We are great for our positions, and we can be position-less out there, and we’re just going to see what happens, bro. I’m definitely excited.”
Irving Says Vaccine Mandate Caught Him off Guard
Irving only played 29 games this year because for the majority of the season, his unvaccinated status barred him from playing home games at Barclays Center under the New York City coronavirus vaccination mandate. Irving says that the entire situation caught him off guard.
“[The mandate] completely caught me off guard. I didn’t expect to come into the season with all this put on my plate. It was an ultimatum given to me, it’s either you work and get vaccinated just like this ultimatum was given to other people, or you sit at home and now we get to talk s*** about your decisions and me personally and make all these judgments and stuff,” Irving said in a discussion with Eddie Gonzalez on the Boardroom’s The ETCs podcast.
“I had to deal with both ends of the spectrum. I sat right in the middle. I knew I was doing the right thing for me. And I had to stay rooted in that decision. And I’m grateful I had a great support system to get me through it because it wasn’t easy.”
Irving also says that he felt like he was letting Nets fans down, with him being away from the team for the majority of the season.
“Not everybody understood my stance this year of being unvaccinated or remaining unvaccinated,” Irving continued. “I was asked in all different types of ways how I felt and whether or not I was going to waver. Did I feel like I was letting the world down or letting Nets fans down, letting my teammates down? Yeah, part of that letdown feeling definitely seeped in.”
The Nets will be debuting a new big three this fall with the addition of Simmons. It will be interesting to see If Simmons, Kyrie, and Durant can live up to the hype.