In a recent interview with Michael Grady of YES Network (video link), Nets team president Sean Marks once again defended embattled Brooklyn guard Ben Simmons. Simmons, who missed the entire 2021/22 season due to mental health issues and a herniated disc in his lower back, had reportedly aimed to return in the first round of the playoffs, but experienced a setback.
“It’s a little bit of a testament that one, he tried to get back out there and tried to help his teammates and secondly, we have to be careful not judge people,” Marks said. “And if you’re outside that medical profession, when you’re chiming in from afar, you just have to be a bit careful of what you’re saying because you really don’t know.”
Simmons opted to treat the back injury with surgery after the Nets were officially eliminated in a 4-0 first-round sweep by the Celtics.
“Nobody wants to have surgery,” Marks said. “It’s the last resort but it’s bygone now and we’ve got to move forward on this, we’ve got to support him and so forth.”
There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:
- Former Timberwolves team president Gersson Rosas has an official title with the Knicks, having been named a senior basketball advisor, per Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Rosas was let go from Minnesota under murky circumstances and later joined the Knicks as a consultant. Begley notes that determining where Rosas slots in among the Knicks’ front office pecking order will be important during a critical 2022 offseason for New York.
- The Knicks are considering leaving 2021 draft-and-stash second-round pick Rokas Jokubaitis, currently playing for Barcelona in the EuroLeague Final Four, overseas to develop for another year, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post. Berman opines that New York could have more flexibility to sign the point guard prospect in 2023, after several short-term Knicks contracts come off the books. Jokubaitis averaged 7.2 PPG and 2.8 APG across 17 MPG in 35 EuroLeague contests this season.
- Former Celtics team president Danny Ainge, now in the Jazz front office, has enjoyed seeing the progress of his old team, writes Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com. The Celtics are now trailing the Heat 1-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals. “I’ve been proud of this team all year,” Ainge said. “I really liked watching guys develop when I was there, and it’s been great watching guys like Jayson [Tatum] and Jaylen [Brown] and Marcus [Smart] and Rob [Williams] and all of them take another step this year. They just beat a great team, the defending champs.” Ainge drafted Tatum, Brown, Smart and Williams during his Celtics front office run.