Ex-Sixer to Make Nets Debut After Basketball Hiatus: Report

Ben Simmons Philadelphia 76ers

Getty Ben Simmons #10 of the Brooklyn Nets.

The moment many Philadelphia 76ers fans have been waiting for is finally here. The Sixers are taking the court for the first time since bowing out of the playoffs on May 12.

But Philadelphia’s first preseason game has just a bit more at stake than a first glimpse at the revamped roster. That’s because the Sixers will take on the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclay Center in New York on Monday night.

Last season, the Nets and Sixers pulled off a blockbuster trade that sent James Harden to Philadelphia in exchange for a package built around Ben Simmons. And according to Nets beat writer Kristian Winfield, Simmons is making his debut for the Nets on Monday.

“Nets say Seth Curry and TJ Warren are out for tomorrow’s preseason opener. Ben Simmons will make his Nets debut tomorrow against 76ers,” Winfield tweeted on October 2.

Simmons’ Nets debut ends an extended hiatus from basketball for the former Sixers star.

Simmons’ Debut His First Game in Over One Year

The last time anyone in the NBA got a chance to see Simmons in action, he was passing off a dunk against the Atlanta Hawks in the 2021 Eastern Conference Semifinals. For those keeping score at home, that was June 20, 2021 — precisely 470 days ago.

Simmons’ absence from the court was driven by a combination of voluntariness and mandate. Last summer, the former LSU star requested a trade out of Philadelphia and summarily held out until he was moved. The move began a months-long standoff between player and organization. The Sixers held out until another marquee star (Harden) became available, with GM Daryl Morey refusing to sell Simmons for pennies on the dollar.

But After the Sixers traded Simmons to Brooklyn in February, Simmons’ long-awaited debut never came. Instead, it was revealed Simmons was struggling with a back injury. The official timetable for return was shrouded in mystery by the Nets until Brooklyn’s season came to an end against the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs. Simmons hadn’t played a single game in the black and white.

All eyes will be on Simmons in his Nets debut Monday night. Will he display any improved shooting? Will he find ways to be effective without the ball in a lineup featuring Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant?

Earlier in the summer, the former Sixers star opened up about the end of his tenure in Philadelphia.

Simmons: ‘I Should Have Punched That S***’

In September, Simmons sat down with former Sixers teammate JJ Redick on Redicks’ podcast Old Man and the Three to discuss his now infamous play against the Atlanta Hawks.

In the closing minutes of Game Seven against Atlanta, Simmons passed up a dunk underneath the rim and instead passed out to Matisse Thybulle, who was fouled on a hard lay-up. Thybulle went on to make one of the two free throws.

But looking back, Simmons knows he should have done things differently.

“When I look at it now, I’m like ‘man, I should have punched that s***. But it didn’t happen and I was okay with that,” Simmons replied.

How will Simmons play on Monday night? Against Atlanta, Simmons was clearly at a personal and professional nadir. Has he overcome those demons? Monday will be our first chance to truly find out.

Read More