Pathetic isn’t the right word. Frustrating isn’t the right word. Shocking isn’t even the right word. Embarrassing? Nah. That’s not it either. Not enough words have yet been discovered in the dictionary to fully describe the clown Ben Simmons has become with the sudden news that he has been ruled out for Monday’s Game 4. Or perhaps, “soft and lazy” are two adequate words used to describe him.
The Simmons trade turns out to be a failed experiment, a bad trade, causing increasing frustration. That was a conscious deal by Brooklyn, believing wholeheartedly a change of scenery would give him a place to bloom. Fans who have been pining for him to make his much-anticipated Nets debut will have to wait. It’s no surprise, really, that Simmons, a three-time All Star acquired from Philadelphia in a trade in February, has not played a game for the Nets after the deal, with his camp citing back troubles and continued mental health issues.
Close to a return? Close, but not quite. Initially, it was believed he had resumed on-court workouts, and was ramping up for a return. Then, suddenly, it was reported that he would not play in Game 4. This is a man who clearly has zero desire to suit up and actually play a damn game. Not even playing with his new team can serve as a motivator for him to get back on the floor. Instead of working hard to improve his game, he’s resting on his laurels. Instead of putting time in the gym to refine his shot, he’s content with his questionable style of play and lack of all-around game.
It’s understandable why the Sixers granted him his wish and wasn’t hesitant to make a move. It’s why two months ago, the Sixers sent Simmons to Brooklyn for James Harden, who had grown frustrated with the Nets. The swap for Simmons has never looked worse, and folks have not hidden their annoyance and displeasure. The huge question mark is Simmons, and when he’ll finally play his first game as a member of the Nets. And no, for those wondering, he would rather sit on the bench wearing a high-priced Gucci outfit with a pair of fresh Jordans.
Moving to a new city and putting on a different uniform didn’t change the reality of the expectations that faced him, especially someone like Simmons, who was given the bust label and turned out to be an absolute scrub in Philly, where fans grew tired of him after his paltry performances and parade of excuses. He had the damn nerve to file a grievance with the NBA in order to try to recoup the nearly $20 million in salary that the Sixers withheld from him this season. He whined, cried and quit on his teammates, the fans and the city. Now, in Brooklyn, he’s the same player, with nearly the exact same problems that have followed him.
This is what to expect from Simmons. There’s little reason to think he will diversify his game and increase his chances of getting back on the floor. He lives in his own world. He comes across soft and because he’s not mentally prepared for the task at hand and doesn’t trust in his abilities, Simmons refuses to attempt jump shots when he’s on the floor. It’s long been the knock on Simmons, that he can’t shoot. His descent into basketball purgatory is, in part, what shattered his psyche and makes his lengthy absence much more concerning.
All season long, Simmons has detailed his reluctance to develop a strong sense of renewed confidence he needs to have a resurgent season. He has disappeared entirely after pontificating on the personal travails of his mental state. For someone who was supposedly going to be a fixture in the Nets lineup, Simmons doesn’t have the laser focus on continuing to push himself to a level where he might actually turn into that superstar he was supposed to be when he was prematurely regarded as a foundational piece of an exciting Sixers team.
This campaign has been nothing short of a disappointment. It was going to be the most anticipated return since he got shipped to Brooklyn, for good reason. It was a fresh start for him, a new home, and still he has not showed his toughness and desire to be out there with his teammates. This saga, so long as it continues, creates a series of severe headaches that have plagued this team since the start of the playoffs. And if you’re surprised by it all, then you obviously haven’t kept up with the unwanted and unnecessary drama he created in Philly before he joined Brooklyn.
The Nets are trying to recreate his enthusiasm, playmaking abilities that would utilize his unique athleticism, unconventional style and quietly make him a secret weapon. They don’t need Simmons to be their primary scorer in these playoffs. But he’s exactly what this team needs and exactly what this defense needs. It helps to have a true playmaker such as a stubborn Simmons on the floor, as he can facilitate and do all the little things. Instead, he quickly became an Internet meme, with the gifs rapidly floating around mocking him for his softness and inability to make his shots fall.
On a roster with a dynamic duo in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, and in an organization that believes it can win, Simmons has already found convenient excuses to use. It is really evident that he doesn’t carry that kind of star mentality, that he’s afraid of the moment and refuses to put in an honest day’s of work. You can see the following, the lazy habits he’s developed and how quickly it has negatively affected the team and its ability to win games. After months of speculation about his future — and occasional struggles to get himself together both mentally and physically, Simmons is once again making folks believe he’s not deeply and fully committed to playing basketball.
It’s been a season long issue with him, and as far as we can tell, his unwillingness to do the necessary things to bolster the team at least from a defensive standpoint has hurt the Nets more than it has helped. Surely, by now, the Sixers, Simmons’ former team, feel a sense of relief after getting rid of him. He’s the Nets’ headache now. There hasn’t been much good news on the Simmons front, and seriously it’s no longer conceivable that the Nets might even get production out of him. It’s his stubbornness not to do the necessary things to be the backbone of Brooklyn’s defense by using his versatility and size to stifle opponents.
An argument could be made that Simmons has already made up his mind. Don’t expect him to play. He won’t. What has remained a constant is the fact that Simmons cannot be trusted. Not to sound harsh, but it makes the utmost sense to call him a poor man’s LeBron James.