Nets guard Ben Simmons is taking part in 5-on-5 workouts without any restrictions and is expected to be a full participant in training camp, head coach Jacque Vaughn and general manager Sean Marks said on Tuesday, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN.
“Pretty simple that way which is good for me to say, and I think that fits into an exciting time for me to have this group together,” Vaughn said. “No restrictions at the beginning of the year — get to form an identity together, get to form some relationships at the beginning of the year, a style of play, so really looking forward to the challenge and getting to training camp because of that.”
In addition to discussing Simmons’ health, Vaughn confirmed something the former No. 1 overall pick said last month, telling reporters that the relationship between the two men is in a better place now than it was last season. As Bontemps details, Vaughn also agreed with Simmons’ assessment that he’s a point guard, though the head coach did offer a caveat.
“I would use the word ‘agreement’ more so than ‘commitment,'” Vaughn said when he was asked if he’s committed to playing Simmons at the point this season. “The agreement is if he’s playing at a consistent and high level, then I think our pictures look exactly the same. I think you can kind of put it in that category.”
Asked if Simmons is competing with Spencer Dinwiddie for minutes at point guard, Vaughn said the two guards will share the floor at times, with Dennis Smith Jr. also in the mix for a regular backcourt role, tweets Ian Begley of SNY.tv.
Here’s more on the Nets:
- There’s no specific timeline for the return of first-round pick Dariq Whitehead, who underwent foot surgery in the spring, but the Nets certainly don’t expect him to miss his entire rookie season, per Adam Zagoria of NJ.com. “We’re definitely not going to rush him,” Marks said. “We love the grit and determination. I wouldn’t put a timeline on when he’ll be back but he will definitely be playing this year.”
- While Vaughn still expects to use smaller lineups frequently in 2023/24, he wants to give Day’Ron Sharpe an opportunity to earn a role since he’s one of the team’s best rebounders, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post (Twitter links). The head coach also said that he expects Simmons and center Nic Claxton to share the floor quite a bit, despite the spacing issues it created last season.
- For the first time since 2018, the Nets won’t have any superstar players on their roster entering training camp. That doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t be open to pursuing a star in the next year or two if the right opportunity arises, but it also doesn’t sound like they feel compelled to do so. “(Team owner) Joe Tsai, myself and (Vaughn) have talked openly about how this team will look in the upcoming years and when’s the right time to go back in,” Marks said, according to Bontemps. “Whether it’s facilitating another deal, whether it’s acquiring more players, whether it’s seeing what these young guys on our team right now can develop, and that’s an exciting piece too that we’re forgetting to mention. We’re certainly not in any hurry, but at the end of the day, we’re going to do our due diligence like we always have over the course of the last six years.”
- Over at his Substack, Steve Lichtenstein explores why forward Trendon Watford has the potential to be a solid developmental piece for Brooklyn. Watford is on a non-guaranteed contract with the Nets.