There is one NBA player that always seems to end up in the latest sports news story, and no, it’s not LeBron James. Ben Simmons has had a miserable 12 months when it comes to his legacy, and the painful saga just won’t come to an end.
Ben Simmons was once a promising young prospect in the NBA and it looked like he had the tools to become one of the best players of all time. Now some are wondering if he will ever make a return to the floor, especially after the most recent setback.
At the end of a disappointing playoff exit for the Brooklyn Nets, the team announced that Simmons is set to underdog back surgery. The procedure is expected to keep Simmons off of the basketball court for 3-4 months, but it would allow him to be back for the start of the 2022-23 season.
NBA players have surgeries all of the time in the offseason and make a return, but there are some questions surrounding Simmons. He missed the entire 2021-22 season with the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets, and it doesn’t feel as if he even wants to play.
Simmons has been dealing with a herniated disk in his lower back, and the surgery is expected to reduce pain in that area. Multiple doctors and back specialists were consulted before choosing this path, and the team was on board with this decision.
Brooklyn is expecting Simmons to make a full recovery and he should be ready to join the team by the start of Training Camp. The Nets return Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving from the 2021-22 team and could be a threat to win a title if fully healthy.
The Philly Fall Out
A few years ago it seemed unfathomable that Simmons would ever wear another uniform outside of Philadelphia, especially this early in his career. Simmons is still just 25 and the Sixers thought that the duo of him and Joel Embiid would be together for a long time.
The relationship between Embiid and Simmons started to sour at some point during the 2021-22 season, and things got really ugly in the postseason. Simmons refused to shoot the ball from the perimeter, and it allowed opposing teams to back off of him altogether.
The biggest moment in the playoffs came when Simmons inexplicably refused to shoot a layup late in a game because he was fearful of getting fouled. Simmons was in the middle of a huge FT shooting slump, but his unwillingness to shoot cost the Sixers a chance at a win.
Both Embiid and head coach Doc Rivers criticized Simmons after the playoff exit, and Simmons refused to rejoin the team. Mental health was the reason given for his absence, but it was a fight that lasted well into the 2021-22 season.
Even when fully healthy, Simmons refused to report to the team, and he wouldn’t let team doctors examine him. Philadelphia refused to pay Simmons, and that battle is still continuing to this day.
Requesting a Trade
When it became clear that Simmons was no longer wanted in Philadelphia, he and his team requested a trade out of Philadelphia. The front office staff for the Sixers was unwilling to trade Simmons for nothing, and it kept him on the roster all the way up to the Trade Deadline.
Eventually, the Nets agreed to trade for Simmons because they were in a similar situation with their franchise. James Harden wanted out of Brooklyn and swapping him for Simmons seemed like a fair deal at the time.
What Comes Next?
The Brooklyn Nets expected Simmons to join the team after acquiring him at the Trade Deadline, but there wasn’t a firm timeline set. Simmons continued to stay away from the team as he was dealing with the back injury, but mental health continued to play a factor.
It was finally announced that Simmons would join the team for Game 4 of their playoff series against the Boston Celtics. Just hours before tip-off, the team then announced that Simmons would not suit up and mental health was once again given as the reason.
Brooklyn still has Simmons under contract for the next three seasons, and he will be owed $114 million as well.