The last couple of seasons have been far from kind to Ben Simmons. Ever since that 2021 Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the Atlanta Hawks, Simmons has been a shadow of his former self. A three-time All-Star, the Ben Simmons of today is completely unrecognizable. After missing all last season, he is putting up career lows across the board. Only playing 42 games, he has put up 6.9 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 6.1 APG, 0.6 BPG, and 1.3 SPG. Simmons hasn’t played since the middle of January, sitting out due to back and knee injuries. Earlier this week, it was reported that Simmons would sit out the rest of the season, focusing on rehabbing his injuries. Many are not surprised by this, but would not be surprised if this is the last they see of Ben Simmons in a Nets jersey. His time in Brooklyn can be summed up by the following comments made by Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn:
“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 if you can rebound enough with him?”
With the Nets looking like a solid team without Simmons and the team not being able to fit in Simmons, many are speculating that he will be traded this season. He is owed $37 Million next season and $40 Million for the 2024-25 season before becoming an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2025. There are few teams that could not only take on that big of contract but are also willing to take on that contract. There is one team that makes sense more than any other and that team is the San Antonio Spurs.
While there is no telling how much longer Gregg Popovich will be around, if he’s even around next season, there is a very familiar face on Pop’s coaching bench. Prior to the 2022-23 season, Brown re-joined the Spurs as an assistant coach. During Brown’s tenure as head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, Simmons saw his most success. That success includes being a three-time All-Star, one-time All-NBA, and a defensive team nod. Reuniting with Brown would be a great thing for Simmons, having a coach that has seen Simmons’ success and help him return to form.
Simmons would also benefit from San Antonio being a small market team. For his entire career thus far, Simmons has played for two big market teams with superstars. Playing with the likes of Joel Embiid, Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, and Kyrie Irving, the expectations for Simmons have been, even as a first-overall pick. Going to San Antonio would allow Simmons to develop his game on a small market team that will not get a lot of media attention and has low expectations.
Unlike many teams in the NBA, San Antonio would be able to take on his contract. Taking on Simmons will come at a cost though. The most likely piece that Brooklyn would want back is sharpshooter Doug McDermott. On a small contract, for next season, McDermott would be a solid single-season rental. Trading Simmons to the Spurs would also get the Nets under the salary cap. At the same time, trading McDermott for Simmons would have the Spurs well below the cap for the 2023-24 season. Taking on Simmons’ contract, it’s likely draft capital would go to the Spurs alongside Simmons. With the Spurs sitting at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, likely for the next handful of years, this is a low-risk, high-reward situation for the organization.
Ben Simmons is at a crossroads in his career. Being paid like a superstar and performing nowhere near the level of a superstar, Ben Simmons easily has the worst contract in the NBA right now. With only two years left on his contract, he must prove that he’s worthy of another contract in the league. If he cannot, 2025 may be the last time Simmons is seen in the NBA. Trading Simmons to San Antonio would be a good last-ditch effort to save his NBA career. With the small market and a great history of player development, San Antonio would be the perfect saving for Ben Simmons’ career.
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