Ben Simmons Presents 'Challenges' for Nets After Durant, Kyrie Trades, Says HC Vaughn

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVFebruary 14, 2023

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 13: Ben Simmons #10 of the Brooklyn Nets shoots the ball during the game against the New York Knicks on February 13, 2023 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2023 NBAE  (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Ben Simmons is still part of the Brooklyn Nets roster, but it's looking increasingly like the three-time All-Star is not in the franchise's long-term planning.

Simmons has shifted to a bench role since the deadline trades of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, and Nets coach Jacque Vaughn played him just 13 minutes in Monday's loss to the New York Knicks.

Vaughn admitted Monday there will be "challenges" in giving Simmons consistent playing time, telling reporters:

"It's going to be some work that we have to do. Because you just take a look at what the lineups could potentially look like. You put another big next to Ben, then you got to figure out what the spacing is around him. Then if you put another playmaker next to him, then you got to figure out what Ben looks like without the basketball. Then if you go small with Ben, then you have to figure out can you rebound enough with him?

"So, the challenges are ahead of us. We'll look them head-on. We'll figure it out. We have the personnel to figure it out. Whether it is me mixing and matching throughout different pieces of the game, and allowing him to have a group and run with a group, that part we'll figure out, but you see the challenges that lie ahead."

Simmons is averaging 7.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists this season, all career lows. He's looked like a shell of his former All-Star self after missing the 2021-22 season with mental health concerns and a lingering back injury.

The LSU product said Monday he's struggled to find consistency amid the constant upheaval in Brooklyn:

"Everything's been changing all year, so it's hard to really understand what's going on. But hopefully we find some rhythm and consistency. It's different. It's a different experience [coming off the bench]. So whatever the team needs from us to win, I'm willing to do that.

"It's a little frustrating trying to find some rhythm and consistency. But that's what it is at this point right now. Guys have been in and out due to injuries, trades, so there's been a lot of different things that factors into it. Hopefully now we get a little bit of a stretch where we can find some rhythm and consistency."

Simmons has two years and $78.2 million remaining on the max contract he signed with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2019. It seems highly unlikely that any team would take on that deal despite Simmons not turning 27 until July and having All-Star caliber talent.

The shortcomings of his game, combined with the nosedive his production has taken this season, have made it so he's borderline untradeable and seemingly unplayable in Vaughn's rotation.