When Ben Simmons and agent Rich Paul met with Nets leadership – including GM Sean Marks – earlier this week, Simmons told the people in the room that he’s experiencing a “mental block,” which is creating stress that could be exacerbating his back problems, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
The setback Simmons experienced prior to his anticipated Nets debut in Game 4 of the team’s first-round series vs. Boston was initially described as a physical one — he was said to be suffering from renewed back pain. But Charania’s report suggests there are still mental obstacles to clear before Simmons returns to the court.
Reporting this week from Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report and Michael Scotto of HoopsHype backs up that idea. Fischer wrote that it’s “quite clear that the mental aspect of Simmons’ return to game action is the biggest hurdle” he has to overcome, while Scotto has heard from a source close to Simmons that the 25-year-old is “going through it right now mentally.”
According to Charania, Nets officials told Simmons in this week’s meeting that the franchise is willing to do whatever is necessary to support him, and Scotto hears that the team has indeed been “supportive at every turn,” making the three-time All-Star more comfortable than he was in Philadelphia. Simmons didn’t end up making it back this season, but Scotto’s source is “very confident” he’ll return to action next season.
Here’s more on the Nets:
- Echoing Jake Fischer’s reporting from earlier in the week, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer suggests a Simmons trade this offseason is unlikely because teams are warier than ever about his condition. A source from a non-playoff team that was previously interested in Simmons told O’Connor, “We’re at the point we’d want to see him play first.”
- Within his story on the Nets, O’Connor writes that there were “crickets” earlier in the 2021/22 season when the team was reportedly willing to listen to trade inquiries on Kyrie Irving.
- The Nets had some interest in acquiring an athletic wing defender such as Dorian Finney-Smith, Royce O’Neale, or Marcus Smart prior to this year’s trade deadline, according to Scotto, who thinks the team could explore the trade market for that type of player again this offseason. Scotto speculates that Brooklyn might dangle one of its sharpshooters – Joe Harris or Seth Curry – in those talks.
- Goran Dragic, who turns 36 next Friday, isn’t considered retirement. The veteran point guard said this week that he’d like to play for two or three more seasons, tweets Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. Dragic will be a free agent this summer after signing a rest-of-season contract with Brooklyn in February.