On the same day as the team’s season-ending loss to the Celtics, Nets leadership reportedly had a meeting with Ben Simmons and his agent, Rich Paul, to discuss the All-Star point guard’s future with the team, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. In the meeting, Simmons told the team that he still suffers from a “mental block” that’s caused stress and has possibly triggered the back injury that kept him out for the postseason.
During Monday’s meeting, Simmons said his goal is still to return to the court and play for the Nets, with the team saying it was willing to do whatever is needed to support him. The Nets and Simmons had been targeting Game 4 for a return, yet Simmons made himself unavailable on Sunday, which reportedly “triggered frustration and disheartenment throughout the organization.”
“People involved here are exasperated by this saga because that is what it is. I got the feeling yesterday that it was like waving a white flag,” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said. “I know that this might have the appearance of Ben Simmons saying, ‘I don’t want to play, we’re down 3–0,’ but he woke up yesterday with his back hurting. That is what I have been told, and it’s just as simple as that.”
Simmons, who still has three years and $114 million left on his contract, was acquired in February as part of the blockbuster trade that sent James Harden to the 76ers. He was not even on the bench during Game 4 due to his back issues, according to SI‘s Howard Beck.
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