As the world waits on the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving drama to unfold, it’s easy to forget that even if the Nets do move both superstars as requested, they still have one All-Star on their roster.
Ben Simmons isn’t expected to be going anywhere, though it could take time for him to regain his All-Star form. One of his teammates admitted as much.
“There are always challenges. Foremost, he has missed a whole season. It is going to be a challenge getting his rhythm back playing basketball,” Seth Curry, Simmons’ teammate with the 76ers and now the Nets, told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia. “I don’t know specifically what he has been through, mentally — that’s hard for me to comment on — but having that year off, having that time off, of competing and playing five-on-five basketball is going to be just as hard … just taking some time and getting re-acclimated to playing high-level basketball, but he is a special talent, has all the skills. The Nets need him on the floor.”
The 6-foot-11 Simmons has played in three All-Stars games and at his best was a game-changing talent at both ends of the floor. For his career, he has averaged 15.9 points, 8.9 rebounds and 7.7 assists. It’s just been so long since the No. 1-overall pick of the 2016 NBA Draft last played, dating back to the 2020-21 playoffs. He then requested a trade from the 76ers, and didn’t play for them at all. After coming over to the Nets in a trade deadline blockbuster for James Harden on Feb. 10, the 26-year-old Simmons didn’t suit up for them either.
He underwent microdiscectomy surgery at Cedars-Sinai Marina Del Rey Hospital in Los Angeles on May 5. A source close to Simmons confirmed to The Post in June that he has started the rehab phase and is on schedule to be ready for training camp.
“I have seen him in the facility a couple of times,” Curry said. “Just like I said, [he’s] been doing a lot of shooting, working, working on his body and being in the gym, so, from everything I have seen, hopefully, he will be out there ready to go come training camp.”
There’s no telling what the composition of the Nets roster will look like when training camp comes around. It could include Durant and Irving, or it might not. The Nets will need Simmons either way.
“Obviously, he is an All-Star-caliber player,” Curry said. “Obviously, he is trying to make the most of this offseason, get back healthy physically and mentally. Like I say, he had a year off, it’s going to be good for him to get back out on the court and get re-acclimated. He creates a lot of three-point shots for his teammates. Obviously, it helps me a lot, to get good shots. The pick-and-roll game, and the hand-off game, the two-man game … he is a good guy rolling to the rim and finishing. Defensively … he can guard a lot of positions.”
He just hasn’t done any of those things in quite a while.