The Brooklyn Nets are going to have a healthy Ben Simmons next season, while Kyrie Irving has already expressed his desire to continue playing in Brooklyn. If both can have a full training camp and stay healthy, the Nets could be one of the favorites to win the 2023 NBA title.
Not so fast, though, according to Sports Illustrated senior writer Howard Beck. On an episode of “The Crossover,” the veteran sportswriter insists that only one should be with the Nets next season.
Here’s how Beck said the Nets should proceed with their mercurial players:
“I don’t think you can go into the next season with both of them. You can’t go in with both Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons, because you can have one volatile, unreliable, unpredictable star. You can’t have two.”
The “Crossover” co-host continued:
“On paper, they’ve got three stars. On paper, they should be a contender next season. But that’s like the flimsiest on-paper version of a contender I think I have ever seen. I don’t know what those two guys are gonna do, how many games they’ll play.
“Ben Simmons has never played a minute with this team. We don’t really know how he fits with them or what he’s willing to do.”
Irving talked of extending his stay with the Nets to go on a four-year dominance with Kevin Durant. Those were bold words from a player who has missed more games than played in his three seasons in Brooklyn.
And Irving’s unavailability isn’t just about his refusal to take the vaccine that had the Nets practically banning him from every team activity. The seven-time All-Star was a no-show in several games without even telling coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks about it.
More importantly, KD and “Kai” have only won one playoff series, which was in 2020 against a depleted Boston Celtics team. A retooled Celtics team led by Jayson Tatum ran them off the court in the first round of the playoffs this year.
Simmons should be fully healthy next season after undergoing back surgery. But what his mental health will be when the season tips off is anybody’s guess.
GM Sean Marks defends Ben Simmons
Ben Simmons was on the receiving end of vicious criticisms for how handled his entire season first with the Philadelphia 76ers and then with the Brooklyn Nets. First, he sat out to force Philly to trade him at the deadline in February. Then, mental and back issues prevented him from playing for Brooklyn.
Here’s what general manager Sean Marks on the YES Network had to say about the whole Simmons brouhaha:
“It’s a little bit of a testament that, one, he tried to get back out there and tried to help his teammates, and secondly, we have to be careful not to judge people. And if you’re outside that medical profession, when you’re chiming in from afar, you just have to be a bit careful of what you’re saying, because you really don’t know.”
Howard Beck, with the Kyrie Irving and Simmons situations on Marks’ hands, doesn’t want to trade places with the general manager:
“I don’t envy the position that Sean Marks is in right now. They are capped out, they’re in the tax, they have no flexibility, they can’t just afford to let Kyrie walk if he opts out. You can’t afford to give Kyrie the max deal, either.”