X

Stephen A. Smith: Ben Simmons Convinced Me During Private Talk 'He's Ready to Go'

Erin WalshSeptember 6, 2022

Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Brooklyn Nets guard Ben Simmons hasn't played in the NBA since the 2020-21 season, when he was a member of the Philadelphia 76ers, but it sounds like he's ready to go for the 2022-23 campaign.

"I spoke to him privately," ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said during an appearance on The Rich Eisen Show. "He convinced me that his problems were very, very real. ... But he's convinced me that he's ready to go this season."

Smith's comments come after he reported last month on First Take that he spoke with Simmons and declared he's "ready to go."

Before being traded to the Nets during the 2021-22 campaign, Simmons took time away from the 76ers to address his mental health. He didn't play a single game for the franchise last season.

Even after Simmons was moved to the Nets, he remained on the sideline and continued focusing on his mental health before deciding to ramp up activity in hopes of a return to the court.

However, during his workouts, the 26-year-old aggravated a back injury and later had an epidural shot to help relieve the pain he had been experiencing from a herniated disk. He never appeared in a game for the Nets last season.

After Brooklyn's first-round playoff exit to the Boston Celtics, Simmons underwent microdiscectomy surgery in May. The recovery timeline was three to four months, so he should be on the verge of being fully healthy, if he isn't already.

The returns of both Kevin Durant, who rescinded his trade request last month, and Kyrie Irving, who opted in to his player option for 2022-23, in addition to a healthy Simmons, will be key to the Nets competing with some of the Eastern Conference's top teams.

Simmons last suited up in the NBA during the 2020-21 season. He averaged 14.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 1.6 steals in 58 games while shooting 55.7 percent from the floor.

The three-time All-Star will need to be better in 2022-23, but having Durant and Irving on the roster should help relieve some of the pressure he felt during his time in Philadelphia.

🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➡️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.