Brooklyn’s Ben Simmons remains a major talking point as trade rumors swirl involving teammates Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. On ESPN’s “First Take” Monday, Stephen A. Smith shared a recent conversation he had with Simmons.
“I had a problem with him not playing, past is past, he’s ready to go. He swears he’s ready to go. I’m rooting for bro,” a said Smith.
Simmons, who was traded from the 76ers to Brooklyn last season, has yet to play for the Nets. He underwent back surgery in May and hopes to be ready for training camp.
Smith slammed Simmons, even calling him “pathetic” on the April 25 episode of “First Take” after missing Game 4 of the first-round playoff series against the Celtics last season. Simmons had a lingering back injury and a mental block.
On Monday, Smith explained that Simmons shared what he was going through last season and reassured him that he was ready for the upcoming season.
The Nets wanted Simmons to go to rehab and spend time this summer in Brooklyn. The 26-year-old took this seriously. Simmons was spotted training in Brooklyn and attending local schools as a Nets ambassador. He even attended a premiere of the WNBA documentary film “Unfinished Business” with general manager Sean Marks, head coach Steve Nash and Nets co-owner Clara Wu Tsai.
Brooklyn could play Simmons at center this season. Simmons, a 2020 NBA Defensive Player of the Year finalist, can keep all five positions and would allow the Nets to play a deadly lineup if Durant and Irving return.