What the latest Ben Simmons news means for the Nets


The Brooklyn Nets have been mired in controversy for weeks. Kyrie Irving is not vaccinated and the team is not interested in allowing him to be a “part-time” player. Coach Steve Nash has prepared to live without one of the NBA’s top 20 players. Yet they’re not the only ones in the conference having problems. Last year’s seed in the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia 76ers, have their own drama with Ben Simmons.

Here’s the latest, from The Athletic’s Shams Charania, on the problems faced by a rival of the Nets:

Simmons’ side has made it clear they have no plans to play for the Sixers again. This (not being mentally ready and some “back pain”) is apparently the story that he and his agent Rich Paul have decided to follow. It is possible that Klutch Sports and Simmons are looking for ways to avoid appearing in games while avoiding costly financial penalties. If an “indeterminate period” turns into half the season or more, that may be enough for the Nets to beat Philly in the standings.

Do what you want with it, but according to ESPN Insider Adrian Wojnarowski, Simmons should “discuss his status as a player with the leadership of the organization.”

Looks like it means at least Daryl Morey, Elton Brand and Doc Rivers; but could that also mean co-owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer? Either way, it doesn’t look like the Philly issue is going to be resolved anytime soon.

Rejoice, the Nets aren’t the only team trying to win without the services of a top player.

The short-term impact here is simply that Brooklyn won’t have to face Simmons, the 2021 finalist for Defensive Player of the Year, when the teams face off on Friday. If the versatile 6-10 guard is out, that will make the Nets’ 3 keys to a rebound victory much easier.

Simmons has had a few of his best career games against Brooklyn, so that’s one less problem for Nash and company to worry about:

It will be a huge boost for players like Kevin Durant and James Harden. Philadelphia starter Seth Curry was eaten alive by Atlanta’s Kevin Huerter during the playoffs. Imagine what would happen if he switched to Durant. Danny Green occasionally burned himself last season trying to defend James Harden. Sixers coach Doc Rivers often waited until the second half to deploy Simmons on Harden to avoid fouling issues. From now on, Rivers will no longer have that luxury at any point in the game.

But this story isn’t just about Friday night’s regular season game. After the Nets and Bucks, the Sixers have the third best title odds in the East by sports betting. But if Simmons stays out of the roster for a long time, it would be a blow to the title hopes of one of the Nets’ main rivals.

There are a handful of ways this could all play out. A few weeks ago, we would have thought the Nets would have their full all-star roster and Simmons would hold up. But then Simmons showed up to join his team when we learned Irving wouldn’t even be allowed to train or compete in road games.

What if Irving gets the shot and joins the Nets as Simmons’ resistance continues into January? Could one or the other be traded? Could the two organizations just trade dramas and trade them for each other?

A positive turn for one team, combined with a negative development (or continued stalemate) for the other, could represent a dramatic shift in the power dynamics of the conference. Irving with Ben Simmons and the Sixers wouldn’t pose a real threat to the Nets. But with Simmons returning and Irving staying out of the pack, it could suddenly be a close call if they were to meet in the playoffs.

Fans of other teams will likely love to revel in these two great dramas, even if both scenarios are nightmares for NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

From a Nets perspective, the latest update on Ben Simmons is a very positive development. Brooklyn’s position as an Eastern Conference favorite will only get stronger with the misfortune of all other teams.

Ben Simmons, Sixers, Elton Brand, Kevin Durant



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