The Nets and newly acquired Ben Simmons both are “ecstatic” over the blockbuster trade that brought the three-time All-Star point guard to Brooklyn and shipped unhappy James Harden to Philadelphia.
The 25-year-old Simmons has not played this season after requesting a trade from the 76ers, citing mental health reasons as part of the reason he has stayed away.
Simmons reported to Brooklyn for a physical on Friday, but general manager Sean Marks said the Nets remain unsure how quickly the 6-foot-11 guard will be able to join the lineup.
“Like all players, you’re here to support them. Everybody’s going through different things in [their] lives outside of basketball and we’re here to support Ben. We’re here to support obviously our entire group, entire organization,” Marks said. “All I can tell you is he was ecstatic about the circumstances that he was walking into and so are we.
“We were thrilled to get him on board and we’ll be here to support him from a physical standpoint, from a mental standpoint and get him engaged and get him around our group. I think that’s cathartic unto itself. … Everyone likes their arm around each other and a hug every now and then and support and so forth. I think that’s what we’re gonna go into this situation with arms wide open, support him, support the new players to our team and get them together.”
Simmons, who will wear No. 10 with the Nets, has been criticized during his career for a reluctance to shoot 3-pointers — he has just five makes on 34 attempts over four seasons — and for a poor career free-throw percentage of 59.7.
Still, the 2018 NBA Rookie of the Year has averaged 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 1.7 steals during his career. When they are at full strength once Kevin Durant (MCL) and others return from injuries, the Nets mostly will need Simmons to play to his strengths of breaking down the defense, getting to the rim and facilitating for his teammates.
“Obviously, you guys have seen and watched us play and you see where some of the holes are and to be quite frank, Ben plugs a lot of those holes. In fact, the three players that we’ve traded for fit a lot of our needs,” Marks said, referring also to shooter Seth Curry and big man Andre Drummond. “You specifically asked about Ben, with the size, the elite defense, elite passing skills and finishing at the rim, all the things that we need, the transition play, all the things that we’ve sort of been short on, to be quite frank, over the course of this last year.
“I think we’re looking forward to Ben coming in and trying to fill those roles.”