Ben Simmons

Nets Notes: Simmons, Point Guards, Whitehead, Sharpe, More

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

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 “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.

Damian Lillard Rumors: Raptors, Little, Magic, Simmons

Multiple reporters have linked the Raptors to Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard over the past handful of days. Sources confirm to Michael Grange of that Toronto is “very much in the mix” for the seven-time All-NBA guard.

Grange cautions that there’s still work to be done on completing a potential deal, but the two sides have made progress in negotiations.

In an appearance on the Five On The Floor podcast hosted by Ethan Skolnick and Greg Sylvander, Matt Moore of Action Network said the Raptors came close to trading for Lillard on Thursday, but downplayed their current interest.

The Toronto stuff is just leveraging… I heard things were red hot on Thursday and again (Raptors vice chairman) Masai (Ujiri) walked away and then came back… I wouldn’t worry about the Raptors,” Moore said, per NBA Central (Twitter link).

However, Grange has heard differently, writing that from the information he has gathered, the Raptors are “very interested.”

As has been reported ad nauseam, Lillard hopes to land with the Heat, though Miami hadn’t been involved in trade talks with Portland as of a few days ago. The Magic are an under-the-radar team that could “make themselves heard” in the Lillard sweepstakes, sources tell Grange.

A Raptors deal centered around OG Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr., Thaddeus Young and draft picks would work from a financial standpoint, Grange observes. Toronto has also expressed interest in Blazers forward Nassir Little in the past, Grange notes.

That said, there are complications on a trade coming together. For starters, Lillard’s agent is Aaron Goodwin, who also represents DeMar DeRozan. Ujiri famously traded DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard in 2018, which led to Toronto’s first championship, but there was a fallout between Goodwin and Ujiri. Granges writes that the two men are believed to be on better terms now, but it’s still noteworthy.

Sam Amick of The Athletic also recently suggested Lillard might hold out if he were traded to the Raptors, writing that the 33-year-old “clearly doesn’t want to be” in Toronto. Raptors players tried to recruit Lillard a few years ago following Leonard’s departure, according to Grange, and were “instantly rebuffed.”

Still, Grange is skeptical Lillard would actually go the nuclear route, since it would tarnish his reputation and he would also lose a significant chunk of money. For example, when Ben Simmons held out for several months ahead of a trade in 2021/22, he lost about $20MM of his $33MM salary in the settlement with the Sixers, sources tell Grange. The NBA has also made clear with the player participation policy and awards tied to games played that it expects players to actually show up and perform, Grange notes.

While it’s easy to draw parallels between Toronto’s interest in Lillard and the team’s trade for Leonard, the situations are also markedly different. The Raptors had won 59 games in 2017/18 versus 41 last season — even with Lillard, the current group doesn’t seem like it’s close to contention. Lillard also has four years left on his contract and he’ll make a combined $121MM at ages 35 and 36, which carries far more risk than Leonard’s expiring deal did back in 2018.

The possible downside seems to outweigh the upside, which is why both Grange and Eric Koreen of The Athletic argue the Raptors should not trade for Lillard, even if they may have the assets to make it happen.

New York Notes: Dolan, Knicks, Rose, Simmons, Nets

Ahead of the opening of James Dolan‘s new Las Vegas arena, the Sphere, Katherine Rosman of The New York Times has published an in-depth feature on the Knicks owner which digs into his adversarial relationship with certain portions of the fanbase.

As he explains within the story, Dolan would support ejecting a fan at Madison Square Garden who was simply holding up a sign urging him to sell the team, but wouldn’t eject the same fan if he were aiming his criticism at the team itself. His logic is that the former is “directed at, on a personal basis, the guy who’s in charge — me,” whereas criticism of the team is aimed at a group.

“If you held up a sign that says, you know, ‘Play better, this team sucks,’ you can do that. That’s part of being a fan,” Dolan said.

Interestingly, in discussing why he decided to spend big money to build the Sphere – a lavish entertainment venue – Dolan said that he initially considered expanding his sports portfolio by buying a franchise in another sport, perhaps baseball or soccer. However, while the Knicks and the NHL’s Rangers are “near and dear” to his heart, he referred to the economics of major league sports as “kind of sleepy,” adding, “I don’t really like owning teams.”

Here’s more on the NBA’s two New York-based franchises:

  • Making a rare public comment within Rosman’s New York Times feature, Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose said that Dolan is invested in the front office’s decisions but doesn’t meddle in those decisions himself. “He places a lot of faith and trust in our basketball operations,” Rose said.
  • Speaking to Tina Cervasio of FOX5, Nets guard Ben Simmons said he feels a responsibility to regain his All-Star form now that he’s feeling fully healthy following back surgery. “I owe it to everybody, the fans and everybody, to get back to where I need to be,” Simmons said, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “That’s what I did this summer to get back.” The former No. 1 overall pick previously expressed confidence about his chances of having a bounce-back season.
  • After opening training camp in Brooklyn from October 3-6, the Nets will move to the UNLV campus for Oct. 7-8, the team announced on Tuesday (story via NetsDaily). Wrapping up training camp in Las Vegas will allow the Nets to avoid traveling for their first preseason game, which will be played at T-Mobile Arena in Vegas on Oct. 9 vs. the Lakers.

Nets Notes: Simmons, Sykes, Claxton

Ben Simmons made some interesting comments about his current teammates and perhaps took a veiled swipe at former ones during an interview with FOX5’s Tina Cervasio (hat tip to

Simmons indicated that he’s looking forward to blending in with “team-first” players. He was asked about what excites him about playing with Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson and his other teammates.

“Just playing with guys who are just easy to play with, that just have one goal and that’s to win. I don’t think guys have too many individual goals. I think the team is going to come first,” he said.

He also acknowledged he needs to do his share after appearing in just 42 games since he was acquired from Philadelphia during the 2021/22 season.

“I owe it to everybody, the fans and everybody, to get back to where I need to be. That’s what I did this summer — to get back,” he said.

We have more on the Nets:

  • The Long Island Nets, Brooklyn’s NBA G League affiliate, made a roster move on Monday, according to the G League club (Twitter link). They acquired the returning player rights to guard Keifer Sykes from the Motor City Cruise, the Pistons’ affiliate, in exchange for the returning player rights to Treveon Graham and a first-round pick in the 2024 NBA G League draft. Sykes appeared in 33 games for the Cruise last season and averaged 15.0 points, 3.7 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game while shooting 42.4% from the field. Sykes played 32 games, including 11 starts, for the Pacers during the 2021/22 season. He could add backcourt depth if injuries strike and the Nets open up a roster spot.
  • In another story, Lucas Kaplan and Ben Pfeifer share a film breakdown of Nic Claxton, examining his growth and what he could bring to the team for the future. Kapan believes Claxton can develop into a very good offensive player as the young big man heads toward unrestricted free agency next summer. He won’t become extension-eligible before reaching the open market.
  • Steve Kerr was impressed by the maturity of Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson during the World Cup. Get the details here.

Atlantic Notes: Bridges, Simmons, Powell, Uzoh

Mikal Bridges‘ performance in the World Cup should confirm the Nets’ confidence that he can be their team leader, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

Bridges already had a major breakthrough after being acquired in the Kevin Durant trade in February, increasing his scoring average from 17.2 PPG in 56 games with Phoenix to 26.1 in 27 games with Brooklyn. He also proved to be effective in international basketball, finishing as Team USA’s second-leading scorer behind Anthony Edwards. Lewis points out that Bridges had the best efficiency rating on the team as a result of his shooting percentages (63.3% from the floor and 55.6% from behind the arc) and his contributions on defense.

U.S. coach Steve Kerr was impressed by what Bridges and Nets teammate Cameron Johnson were able to bring to the team.

“I already knew what kind of players they were from coaching against them,” Kerr said. “But they’re so mature: There’s a calming sense from both guys. And they’re also modern-day basketball players: shoot the three, guard multiple positions, long athletically. They’re huge components to this team.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets will be one of the teams least affected by the NBA’s new Player Participation Policy, Lewis adds. The regulations put restrictions on the amount of rest permissible for star players, but the only Net who currently qualifies is Ben Simmons, who has been dealing with legitimate injuries ever since arriving in Brooklyn. Lewis notes that Bridges could eventually join Simmons if he becomes an All-Star this season, but he hasn’t missed a game in his NBA career.
  • In an interview with Fix Media Network (video link) Clippers guard Norman Powell said it’s much easier to go out in public in Los Angeles without being recognized than it was when he played for the Raptors (hat tip to Fan Nation). “The support is crazy,” Powell said of playing in Canada. “It’s so bad, and it’s one thing that I do like now that I’m in L.A., because no matter where you’re at, eyes are on you in Canada. You can’t even go to restaurants, you can’t go to the mall, like you can’t walk down the street. … Don’t go to Vancouver or somewhere where they don’t have the Raptors, you’re getting mobbed, it doesn’t matter.”
  • Ben Uzoh, who briefly played for the Raptors in 2012, has joined the organization as a scout, tweets Blake Murphy of

Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie Talks Offseason, Nic Claxton, More

In a podcast appearance with Dylan Burris of NetsPress, Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie admitted there is a level of uncertainty surrounding Brooklyn and the league as a whole until the Damian Lillard and James Harden situations are resolved. The Nets have been cited as a possible Tyler Herro suitor in three-team scenarios with Portland and Miami.

Obviously, the offseason isn’t over,” said Dinwiddie. “I know the entire league is in a holding pattern for Dame and James. It could affect what we have going on.”

When asked if he knew anything about the Nets’ interest in possible trades, Dinwiddie said that information was “certainly above my pay grade.”

Assuming the roster remains intact, the 30-year-old expects 2023/24 to be a “building” year, as relays.

If we do have this team, which it looks like we will, it’s going to another year of coalescing, building,” Dinwiddie told Burris. “Mikal (Bridges) will try to establish himself as possibly an All-Star, a first time All-Star. I think Nic (Claxton) is going to try to establish himself as one of the premier big men in the league especially being in a contract year and heading into free agency next year.

Cam (Johnson), I think, has more ball skills than people kind of expected. So I think you’ll see him play extremely well. I think him being comfortable signing his deal, being comfortable and stuff, you’ll see a little bit of a leap there. For Cam, Mikal and Dorian (Finney-Smith), I don’t think any of them had been in another system.

We’re going to be a group that gets up and down and hopefully, we have a healthy Ben (Simmons) and if he’s in All-Star form, you might have two All-Stars. If he’s there, we have a real puncher’s chance against anybody.”

According to NetsDaily, Dinwiddie praised Simmons as a teammate and said he was encouraged by his recovery from back and knee injuries, though he didn’t know the specifics.

As Dinwiddie noted, starting center Claxton is on an expiring $9.6MM contract, and the former No. 31 overall pick is coming off a breakout fourth season, having averaged 12.6 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 2.5 blocks in 76 games (29.9 minutes) in ’22/23. Dinwiddie said his teammate has made strides in multiple areas this offseason, including his touch around the rim, strength, balance and conditioning.

I think Nic is going to make the biggest jump,” said Dinwiddie, who is also entering the final year of his deal. “I think he’s going to be supremely motivated. I think we’re going to see a big-time year from him.”

Dinwiddie also said he was a “fan” of the team’s offseason moves to this point, per NetsDaily, specifically mentioning free agent additions Dennis Smith Jr. and Lonnie Walker and second-round pick Jalen Wilson, who is on a two-way contract.

Eastern Notes: DeRozan, Turner, Simmons, Powell

All-Star Bulls small forward DeMar DeRozan is eligible for a four-year contract extension worth up to $179MM, prompting K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago to consider the case for Chicago’s retention of the 34-year-old wing.

Across his two seasons with the Bulls, DeRozan has posted impressive regular season averages of 26.2 PPG, 5.0 APG and 4.9 RPG. Chicago returned to the playoffs in one of those two seasons, falling in five quick games to the Bucks in 2022.

Johnson believes that the Bulls might want to consider keeping DeRozan on a deal closer to Khris Middleton‘s new three-year, $102MM agreement with Milwaukee, and wonders if the three-time All-NBA honoree and Chicago could come to terms on a new contract that would make both sides happy.

There’s more out of the East:

  • Three-and-D Pacers center Myles Turner is hoping to elevate his shooting to an elite level this season. The 6’11” big man indicated in a new conversation with hosts Alex Golden and Michael Facci on their Setting The Pace podcast (h/t to Tony East of All Pacers for the transcription) that he wants to join the 50/40/90 shooting club, something few players in league history have ever done. “Working on multiple things,” Turner said. “Obviously, still improving my shot. Get my numbers up there. I really strive to be like a 50/40/90 guy… I think it’s possible… a lofty goal at that, but something I know I’m capable of doing.” In 2022/23, Turner averaged 18.0 PPG on .548/.373/.783 shooting splits, along with 7.5 RPG, 2.3 BPG, 1.4 APG and 0.6 SPG. He has never shot better than 80.9% from the charity stripe in a single season, or better than 38.8% on three-pointers.
  • The revamped Nets are hoping that former All-Star point guard Ben Simmons can return to his winning ways. Simmons was out of the team’s rotation by the end of the year. Per Anthony Puccio of NetsDaily, a recent site survey shows that a majority of fans (62%) are optimistic Simmons will be the club’s starting point guard in April. 87% of Brooklyn fans are also convinced that the team will win more than 38 contests in 2023/24.
  • Clippers reserve guard Norman Powell recently looked back on the 2021 trade that sent him from the Raptors to the Trail Blazers (Twitter video link via Basketball On X). “I didn’t want to leave Toronto,” Powell revealed. “I wanted to stay. The core that we had with Fred [VanVleet], Pascal [Siakam], OG [Anunoby], me, could’ve been what Boston Celtics are today.”

Ben Simmons Eager To “Come Back And Dominate”

Nets guard Ben Simmons is feeling as good as he has in years and is “excited” about the upcoming season, he tells Marc J. Spears of Andscape. A three-time All-Star from 2019-21, Simmons has missed 122 games over the last two seasons due to mental and physical issues and didn’t look his old self when he was active, but he says he “definitely” thinks he’ll be ready for opening night.

“For me to come back and dominate people will be great,” Simmons said. “I don’t intend to come back the same player I was last [season], because that’s not even close to where I am. I get excited because I’m like, ‘Damn, I would [expletive] on the player I was last year.'”

Simmons, who was traded from Philadelphia to Brooklyn during the 2021/22 season following a lengthy holdout, was unable to play for the Nets that year due to back problems. He went under the knife in May 2022 to address a herniated disc and wasn’t fully recovered from the procedure when last season began — he played in 42 games, but was shut down in the second half and didn’t see the court after February 15.

Speaking to Spears, Simmons admitted that he was playing last season when he probably shouldn’t have been and suggested he was trying to “please people” after being sidelined for all of 2021/22. The 27-year-old managed to avoid a second back surgery and underwent an extended rehab process this offseason, which he’s feeling positive about. He said he has been doing 2-on-2 work for the last couple weeks and is progressing well.

“I don’t think people realize how bad it was in terms of physically how I was feeling and what I was able to do on the floor,” he said of his back issues. “… I remember my brother came to watch me work out one day, and he was just like, ‘You’re not OK, are you?’ I was looking at him, I was like, ‘Obviously not. This is not how I should be moving.’ But I’m happy I’m in this place now. I’m grateful I didn’t do anything to have another surgery.

“… Being able to sit down now and not have to lean or slouch one way, it’s kind of crazy for me. But I feel I’m at 100% now. Right now, I’m just building back to where I’m playing. I haven’t played in a while. Just taking hits and getting my body used to that.”

Here are a few other items of interest from Spears’ interview with Simmons:

  • Simmons says he “100%” wants to be part of Australia’s roster for the 2024 Olympics, assuming the Boomers qualify. “There hasn’t really been a time where I’ve been prepared and ready physically,” he said. “But next year, my goal is to be on the Olympic team.”
  • Asked if he felt any desire to ask out of Brooklyn last season like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving did, Simmons dismissed the idea: “I love Brooklyn. I don’t have an issue with Brooklyn. For me, I want to get healthy. The only thing I could do was get healthy. I couldn’t complain about anything. I’m in a great city, a great organization, great owners, great coach, great GM. It’s all good people around, and they want to win and do it the right way. Also, I don’t have specific teams I want to go to. This is a job. I’m not going to ask to be put somewhere specific, I just want to play.”
  • Simmons admitted that his relationship with head coach Jacque Vaughn got off to a rocky start when he was first traded to Brooklyn, but he feels as if he’s gotten closer to Vaughn, who has visited him multiple times in Miami this offseason. “We’re in a great place,” Simmons said. “I speak to him every other day. And I’m excited because I think Coach is great. Great as a person, great coach. That’s the main thing, just being a good human. He can relate to a lot of players, he’s played the game.”
  • Asked about his 2023/24 position, Simmons indicated that he doesn’t expect to be used as a power forward or center. “Point guard. That’s who I am,” he told Spears, adding that he has talked to Vaughn about his role. “As much as people say, ‘Fix this, fix that.’ No, I’m a point guard. When I was playing at that [high] level, nobody was really saying anything to me.”
  • Despite the way his tenure with the Sixers ended, Simmons will “always have love for Philly” and even left the door open for an eventual return to the city. “People always ask me like, ‘If you were to get traded again where you want it to be?'” he said. “I always say, ‘Just Philly. Philly is a second home to me.’ And in time, you learn and grow as people. I don’t really have anything bad to say about Philly. It was a crazy situation at the end, but it is what it is.”

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.

Atlantic Notes: Dinwiddie, Brown, Tatum

The Nets have a decision to make on their extension-eligible starting point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, notes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Injury-prone Ben Simmons has technically also become extension-eligible, but given how difficult it has been to find minutes for Simmons on the roster, Lewis doubts Brooklyn would be interested in extending the former All-Star.

Dinwiddie is currently earning $20.4MM in the last season of a lucrative three-year deal. Lewis notes that the 30-year-old’s veteran leadership and play-making remains valuable, and speculates that it might behoove team GM Sean Marks to re-sign him to a deal comparable to his current three-year, $54MM contract before he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics All-NBA forward Jayson Tatum reflected on his All-NBA teammate Jaylen Brown‘s massive new five-year contract extension that could be worth as much as $304MM, per Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. “Much deserved, it was a no-brainer,” Tatum told Washburn. “So I’m happy for him and his family. It’s life changing. It’s a big deal. I’m happy we’re going to have him for however much longer we’ve got him for. I’m happy about that.” Brown averaged 26.6 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 3.5 APG, and 1.1 SPG across 67 contests with Boston last season. He and Tatum have been the centerpieces of a team that has appeared in four Conference Finals across its last six seasons, and one NBA Finals.
  • Washburn notes that, in the 2024 offseason, Tatum himself will become eligible for his own five-year super-max contract extension that would make him even higher paid than Brown. Washburn considers it inevitable that the Celtics will tender him an extension offer, given his standing on the team and in the league, but it’s not at the front of Tatum’s mind. “Nah, I don’t think about nothing of that,” Tatum said. “It’s one day at a time.”
  • In case you missed it, Sixers point guard James Harden reportedly does not intend to suit up for Philadelphia as he awaits a trade. The former All-Star opted into the final year of his current deal with the team in an effort to force a trade, rather than signing with another club in free agency this summer.