After yet another injury-shortened season, Brooklyn Nets star Ben Simmons is attacking his offseason rehab with a renewed level of intensity. But, for all of the positive takes coming from that intensity, he can’t escape his reputation.
The three-time All-Star tried to show off some of that progress in an Instagram story that found its way to Twitter where roasting ensued.
Simmons appeared in just 42 games this past season averaging career lows of 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 6.1 assists. He also missed the entire 2021-22 campaign with myriad issues and had his rookie season wiped out leading to a reputation as being injury-prone even before he became passive offensively.
He spoke on his rehab amid speculation he might suit up for the Australian National Team.
“I’m currently rehabilitating my back injury and putting my full effort and focus towards that,” Simmons said, per James McKern of The Herald Sun on May 6.
Simmons is roughly 13 months removed from having a microdiscectomy on his back which typically takes up to 18 months to recover from. He has not suffered any setbacks since being shut down with back soreness on March 28 but general manager Sean Marks will be cautious.
He’s also owed more than $78 million over the next two years so Brooklyn needs a bounceback.
Nets Have to Ride Out Ben Simmons’ Contract
That contract is exorbitant for the version of Simmons that took the floor last season. Despite flashing the ability that made him the No. 1 overall pick in 2016, he often lacked “force” when he was on the floor, much to the chagrin of head coach Jacque Vaughn.
“I’ve been in this position,” wrote John Hollinger of The Athletic on May 4. “There is really no other option than to ride it out, because…what’s the alternative? Having $37 million in dead money (or $12 million in stretched money) on the cap each year, just so you can fill that roster spot with a minimum guy who might not even be any better?”
Some trade proposals for the 26-year-old Aussie have borne that out with suggested offers as low as second-round picks and salary cap relief.
The good news is it sounds like Simmons could be poised to prove his critics wrong.
“The group around Ben has noticed a complete change in Ben’s focus and mentality [through] this rehab and how he has attacked it and engaged with everything,” reported Brian Lewis of The New York Post on May 17.
Healthy Ben Simmons Could Unlock Nets’ Lineup
Bridges showed well as a primary scoring option, though his ability to create for others is a self-admitted next step in his development. Simmons offers that in spades if he can come back healthy.
At his peak, he averaged 16.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 7.7 assists with 1.4 steals per game (2018-19) and led the league with 2.1 steals per game in 2019-20. Of course, that was four seasons ago now, and even then he only made 57 appearances followed by 58 appearances in 2020-21.
Still, a return of that version of Simmons would be a boon for Brooklyn.