BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Nothing has gone right for the Brooklyn Nets in their first-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics. Kevin Durant stunk in all three games of the series by shooting 19-for-52, and ever since Kyrie Irving offered to take on the Celtics fans after a 39-point Game 1 performance, he stunk in the last two games. Steve Nash has been outcoached by his former assistant Ime Udoka. The Celtics could be in a position to sweep the Nets on Monday night after taking a 3-0 series lead.
Then, a bombshell arrived Sunday afternoon when The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on Twitter that the Nets’ Ben Simmons would miss Game 4 of the playoff series.
No one could have been surprised about that development. If the Nets were, shame on them for actually thinking Simmons would go show up and play after he failed to do that since he arrived in the James Harden trade.
Simmons turned out to be a talking point for every talking head on television and a laughing meme on Twitter after the news. He makes it that much easier for everyone to despise and mock him.
The Nets can say all they want that it was their preference to not play him in this series, but no one is buying it. If Simmons wanted to play, he would have and he would have defied the Nets’ orders. Anyone with a competitive spirit would have raised a ruckus about not being cleared to play, especially in an elimination game.
With the Nets needing a moral and emotional boost in this series, Simmons should have been out there and playing. Even if he was useless, at least he can say he tried to do something. He would have earned respect from Durant, Irving and the rest of his teammates for being out there.
Simmons is the anti-Kobe Bryant. He decided to steal money from the Nets this season rather than wanting to play. If he was a hockey player, he would have quit. If he was a soldier, he would have abandoned them. You get the point.
Shame on the Nets for enabling him. It speaks poorly on them that they allow him to do what he is doing. So much for the championship culture they built.
There’s no way Durant and Irving were happy to hear about this news. After Simmons told those two that he would be ready to go as soon as possible when the Nets acquired him, he lied to them. He decided to be a bystander and collect his money rather than be in the line of duty.
If the Nets have some dignity, they would file a grievance against him for taking money from them despite not playing a game. But they won’t since this is a franchise that caters to players. The same franchise that decided to let Irving play despite not being vaccinated after a losing streak. Of course, his absence earlier this season and playing only home games affected the chemistry he and his teammates had this season. This explains why the Nets are in a bind.
It wouldn’t be surprising if this organization gives Irving a long-term contract extension despite the distraction he created in his time here. They catered to him since the day he got here, so what’s another one?
It also wouldn’t be surprising if the Nets cater to Simmons and let him play next season, and that would be wrong.
After he blindsided them about not playing in Game 4, why should the Nets even trust him again?. He should have been ready to go weeks ago, but he decided that it wasn’t worth it, That told you all you need to know about him. There’s no question Irving and Durant notice that. Once he lost his teammates, it’s over and he can never get it back. It’s hard to believe he can win his teammates back after what he pulled.
Simmons is not worth the time and drama for a team trying to accomplish its championship objectives.
This is a player who is in his own world. He doesn’t talk to anyone. He doesn’t seem to care. He doesn’t like basketball. He doesn’t look at his job as his responsibility and obligation. He clearly doesn’t want to be counted on based on him failing to prepare to play as soon as he was acquired.
It sure seems like Simmons could be on a trajectory of a short-lived NBA career.
Who would want him? He can’t shoot. He is a liability on offense. He doesn’t have any credibility with his teammates. He quit on the Philadelphia 76ers, and now, he is too scared to play for the Nets.
It was dumb of the Nets to trade Harden and acquire Simmons of all people in the first place. They should have known a long time ago what their troubled player was.
The Nets need to cut their loss with him after this season. If it means releasing him, so be it.
Simmons can’t play a game with them after he bailed out on them in time of need.