Nets Notes: Simmons, Vaughn, Walker, Whitehead

Reestablishing the relationship between Nets guard Ben Simmons and head coach Jacque Vaughn was a priority for Brooklyn this offseason, Andscape’s Marc J. Spears writes.

The Nets allowed Simmons to spend the offseason training in Miami, where he felt most comfortable, and Vaughn made sure to visit and connect with the former No. 1 overall pick several times.

I had something to prove,” Simmons said. “So, whoever comes down, whoever doesn’t, I know who’s there for me. And he was down there. He came to check on me, which I really appreciate and that gave me more confidence. It was good to have him down there.

Simmons, who said his relationship with Vaughn was “terrible” to start out, was upset with the lack of communication between the two parties and believed the head coach was frustrated by an injury situation that limited him to 42 games last season. After working on the relationship over the offseason, Vaughn handed the keys to the starting lineup over to Simmons, who ranks toward the top of the league in rebounds and assists.

I thought it was important for me to reestablish our relationship from the way it was introduced,” Vaughn said. “[2022/23] was during a pretty tumultuous season with expectation, trauma and chaos, and we both were involved in it. And for me to hopefully let him know that [there were] no hard feelings my way. I was trying to set a standard for the program and that’s my responsibility as a coach and to let him know what my expectations were for him going forward and that I am pulling for him at the same time.

We have more from the Nets:

  • Simmons is day-to-day with a hip injury, tweets Brian Lewis of The New York Post. He has missed two consecutive games. “He received treatment, and he’ll continue to receive treatment,” Vaughn said. “[We’re] just not in the place where all parties around feel comfortable with him playing at the levels that he’s been playing it.
  • Lonnie Walker IV is off to a career-best start after signing a minimum-salary contract with the Nets in the offseason. In eight games, Walker’s averaging 16.8 points while shooting 53.8% from the floor and 46.3% from deep in just 22.4 minutes a night. “Just genuinely understanding just the game [and] kind of slowing it down,” Walker said of the difference in his play this season (via the New York Post’s Dan Martin). “I used to always play 100 percent going too fast without really analyzing the game.” With Cam Thomas sidelined for at least two weeks, Walker could continue to see his usage and playing time increase.
  • Brooklyn first round pick and former five-star recruit Dariq Whitehead dealt with a lingering foot injury through the draft process and offseason. The youngest draft pick in Nets history made his professional on-court debut in the G League, starting for Brooklyn’s affiliate Long Island Nets on Friday, according to Nets Daily (Twitter link). He finished with five points and four rebounds in his return to the court.
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