Knicks fans can enjoy Nets’ lack of long-term plan for Ben Simmons

Ahead of last year’s trade deadline, New York Knicks fans watched as the Nets traded a disgruntled James Harden to the Sixers for Ben Simmons. Not only is the 26-year-old’s future in Brooklyn unclear, but his future in the NBA is unclear as well.

Since arriving in Brooklyn, Simmons has played in only 42 games. Between requesting a trade and dealing with a nagging back injury that resulted in him having surgery during the offseason, he didn’t play at all in 2021-22. It was believed that he would be back in time to suit up for the Nets in the playoffs but he wasn’t able to do that. It’s not as if he would’ve made much of a difference as Brooklyn had no answer for Boston.

As for this season, Simmons has been a disappointment. Nets fans have sat back and watched the team trade Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant within a matter of days of one another. What was once Brooklyn’s new Big Three after the Harden trade has turned into Simmons being the last one standing. Well, except for the fact that it’s been over a month since he played.

Ben Simmons’ future in Brooklyn unclear as Nets move past Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving era

The former No. 1 pick last played in a game on Feb. 15. He scored two points and recorded four rebounds and four assists in 20 minutes. Before the All-Star break, Simmons had fluid in his knee drained and received a plasma injection. With the regular season coming to a close in the coming weeks, Jacque Vaughn hasn’t said that Brooklyn plans to shut Simmons down for the year. However, there’s still no timetable as to when he’ll return.

Simmons didn’t travel on the Nets’ five-game road trip that ended with a 121-107 loss to the Thunder on Tuesday. Vaughn said that Simmons was “still managing his back and knee soreness.” Given what happened last season, there’s reason to believe that Simmons won’t play again this year. The Nets have managed to remain in the top six of the conference without him, though, with Mikal Bridges playing like a younger KD.

Simmons is signed through the 2024-25 season. He’ll make $37.9 million in 2023-24 and $40.3 million in 2024-25 before becoming an unrestricted free agent. That’s a lot of money for Brooklyn to pay a player that has been a non-factor. It’d be nearly impossible to get a trade done, too. No team should want to take a gamble on Simmons and his contract.

At this point, Nets fans are ready to see Simmons go, but that doesn’t seem like an option. He’s just another player who hasn’t panned out as hoped for Brooklyn. Hopefully, Simmons is able to get back to the player that he was in Philadelphia, but it doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen. The Nets’ front office is now tasked with figuring out what to do next.

Meanwhile, after years of being the butt of NBA jokes, Knicks fans can finally be excited about what’s to come.