Doc Rivers Defends Role He Played in Ben Simmons Joining Nets

Ben Simmons

Getty Ben Simmons #10 of the Brooklyn Nets warms up before the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center

The former Philadelphia 76ers star still hasn’t played in a game with the Brooklyn Nets, but after undergoing back surgery following the season, Ben Simmons is seemingly ready to go.

Simmons will form a new star trio with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving if the two of them are still on the roster to start the season, but that’s far from a guarantee. According to’s Steve Bulpett, Durant will be meeting with Nets owner Joe Tsai about his trade request, so perhaps good news is coming for fans.

As for Simmons, it is now over a year since he last played a game of NBA basketball, so there’s no telling what type of player he’ll be once he steps foot on the court.

Despite being a three-time All-Star, Simmons’ defining moment as a pro came in the 2021 Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Atlanta Hawks. In what was a season-ending Game 7 at home, Simmons passed up what appeared to be either a layup or dunk over Hawks guard Trae Young, and instead passed the ball away.

After the game, Sixers coach Doc Rivers said he was unsure if the team could win a championship with Simmons as the point guard. That ended up being the last game Simmons played for the franchise before he was traded to the Nets for James Harden.

Speaking on “The VC Show,” Rivers said his comment didn’t leave to Simmons leaving.

Rivers Defends Role

VideoVideo related to doc rivers defends role he played in ben simmons joining nets2022-08-03T09:35:57-04:00

While having your coach say something like that about you wouldn’t help morale, Rivers said there were problems long before he made that comment to reporters.

“That one comment had nothing to do with why Ben wanted to leave,” he said. “Let me just say that. It was a lot of things—as Ben told me, and publicly now—that happened long before I got there. What frustrated me was that I still think it shouldn’t have been enough to want to leave. I just didn’t. I told Ben that. I kept telling him that. ‘This is not why you want to leave the team. You work these things out.’ They didn’t get worked out.”

Rivers Was a Believer

Despite the issues he ran into with Simmons, Rivers still believed him and star center Joel Embiid could’ve worked out together. He also revealed Simmons called him after the game, and the two did have a good talk, but Rivers says his decision was already made.

“We’ve had one talk—a long, long talk—but we did have one good talk. Ben called me, afterwards, which I thought was great, and we had a good talk,” he said. “The point was he was already leaving and … listen, I really believe, even though 99 percent of the people didn’t, that we could make this work with Ben and [Joel Embiid] and the team. Because I’m built that way, that’s what coaches have to do.”

Of course, this is no longer a possibility and Simmons will now have to get things figured out with the Nets, whether he’s the lone star or part of a big three.

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