Ben Simmons’ former strange situation with the Philadelphia 76ers has reached an end, courtesy of last week’s blockbuster trade with the Brooklyn Nets involving James Harden.
But Simmons took the high road during his introductory press conference, which marked the first time he’s spoken to reporters in more than 250 days.
Simmons indicated nobody was to blame for the weird way things ended in Philadelphia — not Simmons, not the 76ers, not the agents who always have a hand in everything. It just didn’t work.
As you likely know, Simmons has yet to appear in a game this season after his playoff meltdown vs. the Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season. The 76ers made it clear that there were no hard feelings, but they intended to trade Simmons. Who knows what Simmons was thinking, but he tried to join the team early in this season, then later decided against it. In between, he was thrown out of practice by coach Doc Rivers.
Basically, it was a mess.
“For me, it was just making sure mentally I was right to get out there and play again,” Simmons said at his introductory press conference. “That’s something I’ve been dealing with, and it wasn’t about the fans or coaches or comments made by anybody.
“It was just a personal thing for me. That was earlier than that series or even that season that I was dealing with, and that organization knew that. So it’s something that I continue to deal with, and you know, I’m getting there and getting to the right place to get back on the floor.”
Granted, part of the issue is that Simmons can’t really make shots from beyond five feet from the hoop. That includes free throws. And it seems unlikely to change now that he’s joining Kevin Durant (when healthy) and Kyrie Irving (when playing in road games) to form Brooklyn’s new Big Three.
Still, Simmons is perhaps the league’s best perimeter defender, and at 6-foot-10, can play anywhere from point guard to power forward. He is one of the NBA’s most selfless stars on the floor. So there is a reason he believes that a trio of himself, Durant and Irving will make the Nets “downright scary.”
What we don’t know is when Simmons will make his season debut. That still seems very much up in the air.
But at least Simmons is making himself available to answer questions from the media again, coming out from behind the scenes. For the Nets, that’s probably a good sign.