Brooklyn Nets star Ben Simmons faced renewed scrutiny on Monday night as the team lost to the New York Knicks for the first time since January 2020, 124-106.
Simmons, who is in the middle of a five-year, $177.2 million contract, came off the bench and played 13 minutes as he tries to navigate knee soreness and outside criticism about failing to live up to the money he’s earning. But the voices didn’t go away during the game against the Knicks.
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In the first quarter, Simmons received a bounce pass from Cam Johnson and had a lane to the basket. Instead of finishing at the hoop, he dumped the ball off to Nic Claxton at the last moment. Claxton tried to get through the Knicks defenders but missed the shot.
NBA fans were left befuddled.
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Simmons was 1-of-2 from the floor and finished with two points, three rebounds and two assists. He hasn’t scored in double figures since Jan. 22.
Nets coach Jacque Vaughn spoke about Simmons’ role.
“It’s going to be some work that we have to do,” Vaughn told reporters, via SNY. “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 a 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.
“So, the challenges are ahead of us. We’ll look them head on. We’ll figure it out. We have the personnel to figure it out. Whether it is me mixing and matching throughout different pieces of the game, and allowing him to have a group and run with a group, that part we’ll figure out, but you see the challenges that lie ahead.”
Simmons told reporters Monday morning before the game that he was unsure what his role was.
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“Everything’s been changing all year, so it’s hard to really understand what’s going on, but hopefully we find some rhythm and consistency,” he said, via the New York Daily News. “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.”
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