Nets Star Ben Simmons Issued Blunt Message from Shaquille O’Neal

ben simmons

Getty The Ben Simmons drama continues.

After sitting out the season for the Philadelphia 76ers as he waited to be traded, Ben Simmons was shipped in February to the Brooklyn Nets in a blockbuster deal that sent James Harden to Philly.

Simmons had been projected by the team to make his Nets debut during the playoffs. But he never did, and the Nets were swept out of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs by the Boston Celtics.

Simmons has been criticized by fans and the media, including Shaquille O’Neal, who called Simmons’ absence from the playoffs “a punk move” on April 24 and suggested in January that Simmons was a “crybaby,” adding, “I don’t respect him.”

Now that Simmons has undergone a successful surgery on May 5 to alleviate the pain caused by a herniated disc, at least one fan, YouTube personality Doc Holliday, demanded via Twitter that Simmons’ critics in the media apologize for their treatment of him. Without comment, Simmons retweeted Holliday’s tweet to his 1 million followers, perhaps indicating that he agreed with Holliday.

However, speaking to Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks, O’Neal said on May 10 that Simmons should call him if he’s hurt by something O’Neal said.

Shaq Clears the Air

O’Neal is far from the only member of the media who openly criticized Simmons, but he is one of the few who has actually addressed it after the surgery.

“When you leave room to speculate, everybody gonna make their own speculation,” O’Neal told Rooks in an interview tweeted on May 10. “If I said something that was hurtful, maybe he should call me and say, ‘Hey, you said this.’

“I’m intelligent enough to stop time and say, ‘OK, when did I say it? You know what, that wasn’t right, my bad big homie.’ Right now we just going off speculation and some facts because I got people where he is. So I know a lot, and I see a lot.”

It sounds as though O’Neal is open to starting a dialogue with Simmons. In the meantime, Simmons recovery is expected to take about three weeks, the team said, and that he would be fully recovered for training camp in September. Even though there are still questions about the star’s future with the team, it seems Brooklyn would like to have him to start the year.

Will The Nets Stick With Him?

Ben Simmons

GettyBen Simmons of the Brooklyn Nets.

It seemed that when the Nets traded for Simmons it meant that they wanted to keep him long-term. Indeed, he is under contract through the 2024-25 season, but there are a few hypothetical trade proposals that would ship the star out of town, including one in which he would go to the Atlanta Hawks and another in which he would go to the Houston Rockets.

He does have his share of question marks. For one, by the time next season starts, he will have not played in an NBA game for almost 17 months. There’s no telling what version of Simmons the Nets will be getting.

With the Nets he’ll be asked to be the third option behind Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, so he won’t have as much of a spotlight as he did in Philly, but he still has a big role. It’ll be interesting to see how he fits in with the team when the next year begins.

READ NEXT: Kyrie Irving Breaks Silence About Ben Simmons’ Looming Nets Debut

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