Community Shootaround: Ben Simmons

Throughout the offseason, there have been indications that Nets guard Ben Simmons has overcome the physical issues that cut short his 2022/23 season and that he’ll be healthy and ready to go when training camp opens.

Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks started the speculation at his end-of-season press conference after the team was eliminated from the playoffs in April. Marks told reporters that Simmons didn’t appear to need another back surgery and would likely be fully healthy by the start of September.

Simmons got some social media buzz in June when he posted workout photos on Instagram, and a month later, Marc J. Spears of Andscape shared a quote from a source who said Simmons is “as healthy as he has ever been since his last year in Philly.” A day later, Ian Begley of reported that Simmons had fully completed rehab following a back nerve impingement that sidelined him for the last six weeks of the season.

In early August, teammate Cameron Johnson said in an interview that he expects Simmons to be “if not full form, pretty close to it.” He added that he had recently talked to Simmons and believes he’s in “a good place.”

A healthy Simmons would obviously make a huge difference for the Nets, who are trying to establish a new identity after trading Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in February. Johnson, Mikal Bridges and Nic Claxton are the foundation of the team, and Simmons could turn them into a legitimate contender if he becomes anything close to the All-Star that he was in Philadelphia.

Of course, there are caveats. Simmons decided not to join the Australian team for the World Cup after raising the possibility in May. He came to an agreement with the national team that he would skip the tournament while continuing to prepare for the upcoming NBA season while leaving open the possibility of playing in the 2024 Olympics.

Anyone who has followed the Nets since Simmons was acquired in February of 2022 knows there have been other encouraging health reports, which are eventually followed by setbacks.

Simmons is owed $37.9MM for the upcoming season and $40.3MM for 2024/25. The contract is considered among the worst in the league, but only because Simmons hasn’t been able to play. It becomes much more reasonable — and possibly even tradable — if he gets to be healthy and productive again.

We want to know what you think. Will Simmons be able to get back to normal after two straight seasons marred by injuries and off-court issues, or is the All-Star version of Simmons gone forever? Please leave your comments in the space below.

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