The Brooklyn Nets (28-17) need more from Ben Simmons. They know it and Simmons himself has admitted that he needs to be more aggressive when his team needs it adding that he likes to be called out when it is warranted but he just got another dose of reality from ESPN’s Jalen Rose.
Head coach Jacque Vaughn called him out after he was ejected in the third quarter of the Nets’ 117-112 loss to the Phoenix Suns. Simmons finished that game with seven points, six assists (to four turnovers), and four rebounds while also getting whistled for three personal fouls the last of which he argued leading to his getting the boot.
“Ben Simmons is stealing money. Ski mask and gloves as a matter of fact,” said Rose taking tongue-in-cheek comments from colleague Stephen A. Smith during NBA Countdown ahead of Brooklyn’s eventual win over the Utah Jazz a step further. “If you can’t get Ben Simmons to play at an All-Star level, the Nets can’t float without KD…I’m very disturbed by what I see.”
Rose ended up speaking mostly about the Nets as a group but his point about Simmons is valid.
Jalen Rose Says Ben Simmons is ‘Stealing Money’
In the skid-busting win over the Utah Jazz, Simmons finished with just six points adding nine rebounds, five assists, and two steals. He was the only Nets starter to finish without a positive plus-minus.
He is averaging 5.5 points on 44.7% true shooting in his last 11 outings, though he is chipping in 7.0 rebounds, 6.7 assists, and 1.8 steals.
His respectable 106 defensive rating is belied by his paltry 97 offensive rating in that span.
It dates back to before Durant’s injury, though, and leads to a larger discussion about the Nets’ future, to Rose’s point.
“I think it starts with being aggressive knowing that my team needs that,” Simmons told reporters after going scoreless in a 109-98 loss to the Boston Celtics on January 12. “I think I’m giving the ball up way too many times when I know who I am. I know I need to get to the rim and get buckets.”
Simmons has not recorded back-to-back double-digit scoring outings since wins No. 7 and 8 during the Nets’ 12-game winning streak. He has scored at least 10 points just five times in his last 19 appearances after reaching that mark six times in his first 15 appearances this season.
As Rose and Smtih pointed out, Simmons is earning $35 million this season.
He is in the third year of a five-year, $177 million pact that should keep him in Brooklyn through the 2025 season.
Watching The Waiver Wire
Reserve Milwaukee Bucks big man (and former Durant teammate) Serge Ibaka is available, per Shams Charania of The Athletic. But, as Alex Strum of Nets Daily points out, there are very few reasonable paths to making something happen.
Ibaka, 33, would seem to fit the Nets seeking power forward help and would complement what Simmons brings in theory with his ability to protect the rim and stretch the floor with the three-ball.
Except the 6-foot-10, 235-pound big man is averaging just 4.1 points while hitting 33.3% of his triples in limited minutes this season.
He did shoot 37.4% from deep in 2022 while averaging 6.8 PPG, though. His $2.9 million expiring salary might not be steep enough to keep an interested team from sending the Bucks something of value to make sure they land Ibaka’s services meaning it may be unlikely he hits the open market.