It’s been about two weeks since the monster NBA trade that interrupted Super Bowl week between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Brooklyn Nets. All that build-up and neither Ben Simmons nor James Harden have debuted with their new teams yet. Harden is dealing with a recurring hamstring injury. But what’s the deal with Simmons? Ramona Shelburne of ESPN reports that Simmons is closer to weeks rather than months away from playing.
Well, it’s already been two weeks since the trade went down. Simmons no longer has any obligation to the 76ers, so one must wonder why he’s still even weeks away from playing rather than days at this point. Everyone understands the mental health aspect of the situation where Simmons is concerned. But we’ve been led to believe that everything Ben has gone through over the last eight months stems from his broken relationship with Doc Rivers, Joel Embiid, and the Sixers organization.
I get that Simmons may still have some things he’s working through, and that’s fine. Everyone heals at a different pace. Ben hasn’t played in one NBA game this season. So, when Simmons is back on the court, it will take time for him to get back into NBA game shape. I’m sure he’s been in the gym, maybe playing pick-up ball, but that’s not NBA basketball. The playoffs are about two months away, and the Nets need Simmons’ services on the court. Soon, people will begin to wonder if they’ll see Ben at all this season.
The Nets have been dragging along recently. Since Feb. 23, Brooklyn is just 2-12 and in eighth place in the Eastern Conference. So, Simmons isn’t a luxury right now; he’s a necessity. Kevin Durant (sprained MCL) is still out, and we haven’t heard anything definitive on his return. Kyrie Irving still can’t play in Brooklyn, although that might be changing soon. For now, the Nets are just trying to hang on until they get their stars back on the court.
Another angle to the Nets holding off on playing Simmons could be their upcoming matchup against the Sixers in Philly on Mar. 10. That will be the final meeting for these teams, unless they meet in the postseason. Sounds like a bit much, I know, but we’ve all seen stranger things in professional sports. Simmons probably isn’t ready to face a hot Philadelphia crowd this soon after the trade. He couldn’t handle Philly fans when he played there. Imagine him coming back for the first time in a Nets uniform. That will be bonkers.
Brooklyn is quickly running out of time this season. They’re hanging onto the eighth seed in the East currently. The Nets have 23 games remaining in the regular season, and if New York City doesn’t change their COVID-19 vaccination mandate, Irving will only be available for eight of their 23 remaining games. Simmons isn’t the shooter that Kyrie is, but he can do just about everything else as well, if not better. Brooklyn needs their new star on the court soon. The postseason is right around the corner, and these guys need to get on the court together soon. Otherwise, we could be looking at a similar situation to what Brooklyn just escaped with their previous Big 3. History usually repeats itself, but the Nets don’t want that type of history swinging back around so quickly.