Unsurprisingly, there’s more to the story with Simmons, who cited mental-health issues in not playing for the 76ers earlier this season.
Rich Paul – the CEO of Klutch Sports, Ben Simmons’ agent – met along with Ben Simmons with Sean Marks – the Nets’ GM – their leadership in Brooklyn today to talk through what they all needed to do together to continue to work on a plan to get Ben Simmons back on the court in Brooklyn. And what came out of that meeting very clearly to both sides was, as much as the physical return for Ben Simmons, is still the mental return. And the sense very much today was he needed more support, he needed more help to get there. And listen, Brooklyn believes – they’ve seen Ben Simmons put in the work in both those areas, both the physical and mental since he got to the Nets in their trade. They saw him ramp up the last couple weeks until Sunday, when they thought that he was going to be on the cusp of playing Monday nigh in Brooklyn. That had been Ben Simmons’ plan to play tonight. That had been the Nets’ plan with him. And I think their understanding right understanding right now is it’s going to require not just more work on the lower back, but there is still a mental-health part in this equation that the Nets and Rich Paul, Ben Simmons have to continue to work through together.
I think there was a good conversation today and a sense that there’s more work that needs to be done. But the one thing that I know both sides got out of that today was that Ben Simmons reiterated to the Nets he wants to play basketball. He wants to play for this team. He needs more help getting there.
Simmons reportedly told the 76ers he wanted to play for them but wasn’t mentally ready, too.
Of course, Simmons didn’t request a trade from Brooklyn like he did Philadelphia. Nor has the team-player relationship gotten as resentful as did with the 76ers. Communication clearly hasn’t broken down like it did with the 76ers.
But the Nets acquired Simmons for him to play for them as they pursue a championship. Whether you blame him or circumstances out of his control or some combination, he’s not playing.
Now, the questions return to what Simmons is doing to prepare himself mentally to fulfill his contract and play and what the team is doing to help him. Just as had been discussed for months in Philadelphia.
Newer to the process, Brooklyn sounds far more optimistic about helping Simmons through his issues. Yet, exasperation is already setting in.