In an interview with Nick Friedell of ESPN, Ben Simmons said it felt “surreal” to be back on the court with the Nets this preseason after 16 months away from the game. After dealing with both physical and mental health issues, Simmons said he finally got to return to a place where he’s “comfortable.”
Simmons addressed several topics in the discussion, including the negative public perception of him, his future in Brooklyn and everything that went wrong with the Sixers. He said he’s looking forward to his first game in front of Philadelphia fans on November 22.
“I can’t wait to go there, yeah. But for me, everything’s an experience and a learning situation,” Simmons said. “So for me I’m able to learn something that I’ve never been through before. I’ve never been traded and played against a team that I got traded from. (Kevin Durant) has, (Kyrie Irving) has, a lot of guys have, but I’ve never been in that situation so — you have to go through it. Ky went back to Boston, and he didn’t play well, but it’s a lot. We’re people, too. We want to go out there and prove everyone wrong.”
There’s more from the Atlantic Division:
- Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey acquired four former Rockets players during the offseason, but the one-time Houston general manager says he didn’t deliberately try to put the team back together, per Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Morey signed P.J. Tucker, Danuel House and Montrezl Harrell and traded for De’Anthony Melton, reuniting them with ex-Rockets star James Harden. “If you have had a player, whether it be with [coach Doc Rivers] or myself, it can lower the risk,” Morey said. “Because you don’t really know a player until you’ve worked directly with them on your team. So I do think there’s an information advantage when you’ve worked with them before. … It all sort of fell, and it’s created a pretty interesting and, I think, positive dynamic because there is a lot of familiarity, both with the players together and also the coaching staff.”
- After playing for three teams last season, House knows what he needs to do to earn consistent minutes with the Sixers. “My role is just to be energy,” he said (video link). “Be the guy to make stuff happen. Make plays happen, make a shot, knock down a shot, get a rebound, pass the ball, set the play up, run the play, set the screen, whatever the team needs pretty much. I’m just here to give away myself. Like I said earlier, I’m not really worried about accolades. As long as we win, I feel like that’s my biggest accolade.”
- Peter Botte of The New York Post (subscription required) identifies Julius Randle, Jalen Brunson and Derrick Rose as the most pivotal players for the Knicks‘ upcoming season. Botte also notes this will be an important year for coach Tom Thibodeau and team president Leon Rose after last year’s disappointment.