Ben Simmons, the former number-one pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, has been disappointing this season for the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets acquired Simmons from the Philadelphia 76ers in last year’s trade deadline in a blockbuster trade sending James Harden to the Sixers.
Simmons’ everlasting mark on the 76ers franchise was when he passed up a dunk with Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young under the basket in Game 7 of the 2021 Eastern Conference Semifinals, a game where the Sixers would lose and the fan base turned on Simmons.
Many thought a new start for the Nets alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving would help Simmons find his footing. The likes of Mikal Bridges, Nic Claxton, and Cameron Johnson have been showcasing their talents, providing optimism for the fans and the organization, but Simmons has seemingly been forgotten about at this point.
Simmons did not suit up due to a back issue after being acquired by the Nets at the deadline and he would miss that entire 2021-22 season. There was a report that Simmons would play in game four of the first round against the Boston Celtics last year. There was optimism that the former LSU guard would be able to help this team despite missing an entire season.
The former first-round pick has not played since February 24th this season and the Nets’ official Twitter account provided an update on his injury.
Ben Simmons Medical Update: pic.twitter.com/kRcxsjrHLG
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 24, 2023
That brings some speculation, if he even returns to the lineup for the rest of the regular season and potentially the playoffs. Head coach Jacque Vaughn has been trying to figure out a role for the three-time All-Star.
“It’s going to be some work that we have to do,” said Vaughn, via Tim Bontemps of ESPN.
“Because you just take a look at what the lineups could potentially look like. You put another big next to Ben, then you got to figure out what the spacing is around him. Then, if you put another playmaker next to him, then you got to figure out what Ben looks like without the basketball. Then if you go small with Ben, then you have to figure out can you rebound enough with him? So the challenges are ahead of us…”
The former Rookie of the Year would sign a max rookie extension with the Sixers back in July of 2019, a five-year $177.2 million contract. This was not bad deal at the time due to the upside that Simmons had shown to date. Simmons was showcasing his defensive talents, skilled passing ability, dominance in the paint, and the hope the guard would add a reliable jump shot to his arsenal.
This contract is now a negative asset based on his minutes and output. Simmons is struggling to stay on the court and if he is out there, he is not the same aggressive player he was in the early years of his career.
The 6’10′ guard is averaging career lows across the board this year: 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists a game. Keep in mind that Simmons is owed $35 million this season, do the stats warrant that type of money? No.
The guard parted ways with Klutch Sports about a week ago, who was able to get him his big pay-day and it is paying off right now. The astonishing part is that Simmons is still young at 26 years old, but there are plenty of question marks going forward.
Simmons Future With The Nets
The front office for the Nets have to decide what their future with Simmons is, are they willing to stick it out for two more years ($37 and $40 million) in hopes of him playing up to his contract? Is there even a market for him or a team willing to give anything valuable for him? An unlikely scenario, but the team could tell him to stay home or waive him.
NBA fandom loves using the term “bust” and Simmons could be getting close to having that tag placed on him, if not already. It varies, but most NBA fans would be willing to call him a bust, if he doesn’t return this year, next year will be a make or break for his career.
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