Simmons grateful for Nets debut

NEW YORK – The point guard of the Brooklyn Nets, Ben Simmonsmade his long-awaited debut for his new team on Monday after nearly a year and a half away from the game.

After pushing for a trade out of Philly while citing mental health issues and then dealing with back surgery, Simmons said he felt “incredible” as he put up six points, with five assists and four rebounds in 19 minutes in the loss. Monday’s preseason game 127-108 against the 76ers.

“I’m grateful to be able to step on the court,” Simmons said. “Step on an NBA court again. I had a lot of fun.”

While Simmons showed some rust, he appeared to be moving well from one side of the floor to the other after missing 470 days between games. Before Monday, Simmons last played in an NBA game in June 2021 when the Sixers lost in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Atlanta Hawks.

“I thought he was going to be nervous,” Simmons said. “But he wasn’t nervous. He was excited.”

The Nets have a lot of trouble figuring out defensively going forward. However, players and coaches were excited by what they saw of Simmons on the offensive end, especially playing alongside Kevin Durant Y Kyrie Irving.

“I was telling him at halftime, when you’re playing some high-level players, despite what you heard, we’re going to make it easy for you,” Irving said. “And he’s going to love playing with us. He’s going to love running the floor with us. But for him to be there on his first day and for us to experience it with him is something we can look back on for the rest of the season as something we got over. first day, long awaited. I’m glad tonight (Monday) went well for him.”

Simmons said that playing against some of his former Sixers teammates “honestly felt like a normal game.” downtown philadelphia Joel Embidthe escort james harden and the power forward PJ Tucker They didn’t play on Monday.

Nets coach Steve Nash knows the experience Simmons, Durant and Irving are getting while playing together in the preseason is key.

“I’m satisfied overall,” Nash said. “I think it’s all so new. We have to get through this. The guys need time together. Ben is playing with a totally different unit than he had in the past, a different style… It’s going to be ugly at times, but I think as the half went on, you definitely started to see flashes of potential. The way the ball was moving. The way they were harassing defensively. I thought Ben looked pretty good overall and grew in the game. during the middle.”

Durant echoed a similar sentiment. After nearly a decade and a half in the league, he knows it takes time for great players to learn each other’s games, but he’s confident Simmons will find his groove with the Nets pretty quickly. Like many within the Nets organization, Durant was happy Simmons was back on the floor and producing Monday, along with several other league stars returning from various injuries.

“Being out for a year, you get a lot of anxiety about not playing,” Durant said. “I know it happened to me. Eager to see how I am playing, where am I going to play, what is my role in the team. But as a fan of the game, the return of Kawhi [Leonard] it’s great for basketball, the return of jamal murray It’s great for basketball, everyone who’s been injured and can play again, it’s great to see you there.”

Simmons seemed relieved and remarkably happy after the game that he was finally able to play with his new Nets teammates. He believes that better days are ahead for both him and his new team.

“It was fun to make mistakes because I know how good we can be,” Simmons said. “And seeing different looks and opportunities there with Kevin, Ky and Joe [Harris]. See where they want the ball and how things are going to work and flow. But the only way to learn is by making mistakes, so I had a few tonight and I can go back and watch the video and say I know what I did wrong and how to fix it. So it’s all a learning process for me, so it’s good.”

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Simmons grateful for Nets debut