Ben Simmons reportedly has irked some of his Brooklyn Nets teammates given his lack of availability and inconsistent production to start the 2022-23 season.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Sam Amick wrote Wednesday, citing sources inside the organization, how frustration relating to Simmons has been building in recent weeks.
“The coaching staff and players have been concerned about his availability and level of play, with some questioning his passion for the game, those sources said,” The Athletic wrote. “But even when he did play, Simmons’ struggles in his first nine games this season were part of the Nets frustration as well.”
Simmons now has played 10 games for the Nets this season, coming off the bench in the last four. He’s averaged career lows across the board with 5.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.6 assists in 26.6 minutes per contest. Brooklyn acquired the 2016 No. 1 overall pick from the Philadelphia 76ers in February, though he did not play at all last season citing mental health-related concerns and recovery from a back injury.
Simmons spoke to The Athletic about his teammates’ reported frustrations.
“You’re obviously not gonna be happy when anybody’s out,” Simmons said. “But for me, I’ve been dealing with the knee since the start of the season. It’s been swollen. I had PRP (injections). I had blood drained a couple times. So it’s not a made up thing, you know? It’s a real thing.
“I get (the skepticism), but I think the one thing with me is that I’m a competitor,” he continued. “I want to win and play. So I’m gonna do what I can to get out there.”
Simmons added: “There’s only so much I can really do (about perception). … You can’t make people believe, you know? They weren’t there when I was on the floor and couldn’t walk (because of his back). They weren’t there when I was in the ambulance getting taken to the hospital (after a Feb. 22, 2020 game at Milwaukee). People weren’t there, so they don’t know. That was the first episode I had against Milwaukee. That was the original trigger of it?right before COVID, the start of my back issues.”
One way or the other, Simmons feeling the need to come to his own defense against the Brooklyn locker room serves as the latest drama for the organization. In the meantime, Kyrie Irving continues to face his indefinite suspension, which is related to his promotion of an anti-Semitic film on social media, after Jacque Vaughn recently took over for former head coach Steve Nash, who was fired on Nov. 1.