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Why does Ben Simmons have ‘no idea’ about his role with the Nets?

It was just two years ago that the Australian star was among the elite players of the league. Needless to say, a lot has changed for Ben Simmons since then.

Update:
It was just two years ago that the Australian star was among the elite players of the league. Needless to say, a lot has changed for Ben Simmons since then.
Brad PennerUSA TODAY Sports

With the Nets now seemingly in free-fall, following the departure of their two major stars, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, one would could have been forgiven for thinking that Ben Simmons would be given more responsibility. Instead, we’ve seen the former NBA All-Defensive first team member play largely off the bench. It’s a puzzling situation.

What’s going on with Ben Simmons?

While we could start the chronology of this story from the infamous shot that he didn’t take with the Hawks, which in turn led to playoff elimination, a feud with fans and finally a trade to the Nets, we’d prefer to start with what occurred after his arrival in New York. It’s been a tough time for Ben Simmons over the last year and a half. From his physical and mental struggles to a unstable team environment, the 26-year-old has now found himself fighting for playing time. Quite frankly, for a player who is a former rookie of the year and three-time All-Star, his market value is at an all-time low.

This of course, brings us back to our original question, ‘what’s going on with Ben Simmons?’ If we consider the comments from both the player and his coach, following Monday’s loss to the Knicks, the answer to that question is likely to be, ‘nothing good.’ Indeed, speaking postgame, Simmons couldn’t hide the fact that he has “no idea” as to what comes next in the wake of the two massive trades. “Everything’s been changing all year, so it’s hard to really understand what’s going on,” he said. “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 worth noting, that against the Knicks, Simmons spent just 12:41 on the court and during that time was 1-for-2 from the floor, while posting three rebounds and two assists. We need not say more.

What did Nets coach Jacque Vaughn say about Ben Simmons?

As much as Simmons comments portrayed a player who isn’t sure about what to do, the words of Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn, painted a picture of a man who has no idea what to do with his player and that’s not good. “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?”

Hardly a vote of confidence. Consider for a moment that Simmons is now the highest paid player on the roster, with two years left on his deal and a not so small $78 million. While we can appreciate that the situation isn’t so simple, the optics of it border on absurd. Of course, Durant and Irving didn’t depart for free, as we have seen four players arrive in exchange: Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith from Dallas, along with Cameron Johnson and Mikal Bridges from Phoenix. Interestingly, all four started Monday night, while Simmons was the fifth player off the Nets’ bench. Since the trade deadline, Simmons has averaged just over 16 minutes in the three games that have been played. Ultimately, what lies ahead for Simmons is uncertain, but what we can say is that it’s not often you see a player fall from grace in such a quiet fashion, without even a blip.