Ben Simmons opens up, vows to ‘dominate’ for Nets this season

After plenty of talk about Ben Simmons all summer, the enigmatic Net finally opened up about his rehab, his status and relationship with head coach Jacque Vaughn.

In a lengthy, far-ranging interview with ESPN-run site Andscape, Simmons touched on his health (both physical and mental), his expectation he will be ready for this season, and fixing a relationship with his coach that he said started off “terrible.”

And that’s just scratching the surface.

“For me to come back and dominate people will be great,” Simmons said. “I don’t intend to come back the same player I was last [season], because that’s not even close to where I am. I get excited because I’m like, ‘Damn, I would [expletive] on the player I was last year.’ But I know where I was at last year, so it’s easy to say that. But it’s just fun to go and do the thing that you love when you’re out there.”

Simmons hasn’t been able to do that for the Nets.

Nets guard Ben Simmons said he is fully healthy and looking to dominate this season.Corey Sipkin for the New York Post

He was the centerpiece of the James Harden trade to Philadelphia, but didn’t play at all in 2021-22 due to a bad back. Simmons said he was on the verge of suiting up in the playoffs when he aggravated his back, prompting a microdiscectomy surgery for a herniated L-4 disk on May 5, 2022.

“And then from there, I decided to have surgery,” Simmons said. “Rehab was a little different because it wasn’t with people that I’ve been with before, so it kind of felt a little bit new. It was just one of those things where they didn’t really know my body, so they didn’t know what I really needed at the time.”

What Simmons needed at the time was more time.

Experts told The Post recovery time would be 18 months. Simmons tried to play through pain last season, but acknowledged that was a mistake.

“Yeah, definitely,” Simmons said. “I was definitely on the floor when I shouldn’t have been on the floor at the start of the season.

“But I also don’t think I was in a place not to play. That played into it too, but at the end of the day, my body is my career, so I do need it to be healthy. So, I made decisions based on just trying to please the people. I don’t think that was right, personally, for me.”

Simmons credits switching agents to Bernie Lee with helping him get to the bottom of his woes.

Test showed he’d herniated both the right and left side of his back Sources close to Simmons told The Post there was frustration at times between the Nets coach and the team’s only former All-Star.

Simmons admitted as much.

Ben Simmons said he wasn’t completely healthy when he returned to action last season.Corey Sipkin for the New York Post

“I feel like our relationship, to start, was terrible,” said Simmons, who added he and Vaughn hadn’t built any rapport when Vaughn was Steve Nash’s assistant. “I’m not playing. I don’t really have a relationship with [Vaughn] like that because he wasn’t the head coach, because there’s a little distance, or a little gap between assistants and injured players sometimes. And I got mad at him because there was no communication. There’s none of that. So, [I’m] kind of a little frustrated with Coach. I know Coach is frustrated with me.

“One day, people are telling him [I’m] good, and next, it’s not. From the start, I wasn’t good. So, it was a tough situation for him and myself. But now having the right plan and team around me, now he’s seen, ‘OK, he is dedicated. He wants to work. He wants to win, and he’s willing to do what he needs to do to be on the court.’ So now, we’re in a great place. I speak to him every other day.”

Vaughn has visited with Simmons during his workouts in Miami three times this summer.

He reportedly reassured Simmons he’ll be playing point guard.

Simmons, who has been playing 2-on-2 for two weeks, said he will be ready to start the season and will be in far better form than a year ago.

“Definitely. Yeah,” Simmons said. “The version I’m at now, if I was playing against myself from last season, I would kill him. That’s how I feel.”

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Author : Brian Lewis

Publish date : 2023-08-30 06:11:09

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