The Ben Simmons journey with the Brooklyn Nets has been tumultuous, but signs of stability are emerging.
Two months after the Nets were swept out of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, Simmons appears to be fulfilling Brooklyn’s wishes that he stay close to the organization as he rehabs from his May 4 surgery.
Not only did Simmons visit a public school in Brooklyn on June 2, but he made an appearance June 13 at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York for the premiere of “Unfinished Business,” a documentary about the WNBA and the league’s New York Liberty. Simmons walked the red carpet, posing for a photograph with Nets co-owner Clara Wu Tsai, general manager Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash.
For those rooting for Simmons and his future in Brooklyn, these seem to be positive signs and an opportunity to keep his name out of the rumor mill.
Simmons’ Return to Nets Next Season
Recent reports have Simmons returning to Brooklyn next season after being fully recovered from his May 4 surgery to address a herniated L-4 disk in his lower back.
How the point guard responds to his surgery is key to how he will fit into the Nets’ future.
According to a May 14 story in The New York Post, “everyone is confident” that Simmons and organization can work together to focus on Simmons’ future. The story, by Brian Lewis, said that Brooklyn preferred that Simmons spend as much time as possible in Brooklyn to focus on rehab. He is expected to be recovered in time for training camp in October, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
“We will work together with the Nets on a summer plan,” a source close to Simmons said in Lewis’ story. “Everyone is confident.”
That confidence has many believing that Simmons will return and be part of the Nets’ core, along with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Sources close to the Nets confirmed they believe all three will be healthy and together come October, according to a May 26 tweet by Nets Daily.
Nash commented on how he sees Simmons fitting into Brooklyn’s game plan next season.
“I think he plays both [point guard and point forward],” Nash told reporters on May 11. “I think he’s going to handle the ball, initiate offense, particularly in transition. He’s an incredible playmaker, but we have the luxury that Ben can also be a roller, a playmaker out of the pick and roll.”
An Exhausting Journey
It has been an exhausting journey for Simmons, the Nets and their fans. The team acquired him from the Philadelphia 76ers at the February trade deadline in exchange for James Harden. When the deal was made, it was expected that Simmons would be out a week or two for conditioning purposes. However, he would never make his Nets debut, and Brooklyn would be eliminated in their first round matchup against the Boston Celtics.
While Simmons and the Nets teased a return all the way up until game three of their first round matchup against the Celtics, some believe that Brooklyn knew much earlier that Simmons wasn’t healthy enough to play this season. NBA Insider Amin Elhassin shared his take that the Nets knew Simmons wasn’t going to play but didn’t want it to look like they dealt Harden for damaged goods.
“Again, I think they know that he ain’t coming back,” said Elhassan on a March 23 episode of the “Basketball Illuminati” podcast,“But if you say that he is out for the year, number one you kind of throw cold water on the flame of hope that is your season being a championship one. Second of all, they understand that it will put some more pressure on him. That people will begin to ask if the Nets traded for damaged goods.”