Brooklyn’s Ben Simmons remains a major talking point as trade rumors percolate involving teammates Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. On ESPN’s “First Take” on Monday, Stephen A. Smith shared a recent conversation he had with Simmons.
“I had a problem with him not playing, the past is the past, he is ready to go. He swears he is ready to go. I’m rooting for the brother,” Smith said.
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 has been critical of Simmons, even calling him “pathetic” in the April 25 episode of “First Take” after sitting out Game 4 of the first-round playoff series against the Celtics last season. Simmons had a nagging back injury and mental block.
On Monday, Smith explained that Simmons shared what he was going through last season and reassured him that he is ready for the upcoming season.
The Nets wanted Simmons to rehab and spend time this summer in Brooklyn. The 26-year-old took this seriously. Simmons was spotted working out in Brooklyn and going to local schools as a Nets ambassador. He even attended a movie premiere of the WNBA documentary “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 runner-up for the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award in 2020, can guard all five positions and would allow the Nets to play a lethal lineup if Durant and Irving return.