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#pounditTuesday, April 23, 2024

Report: Ben Simmons has ‘mental block’ that contributes to back issues

Ben Simmons in a tank top

May 13, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) warms up prior to the game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Simmons did not play at all for the Brooklyn Nets after they acquired him in a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers in February. He was expected to make his debut for the franchise at some point during the opening round of the playoffs, but so-called physical and mental hurdles prevented him from doing that. Apparently the two are correlated.

Simmons was targeting a Game 4 return in Brooklyn’s series against the Boston Celtics. He woke up the day before with back soreness and was ruled out. The Nets were then swept. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Simmons and Simmons’ agent Rich Paul met with the Nets on Monday to discuss how the two sides can address the “physical and mental hurdles” that have prevented the star point guard from playing.

So which one is it? Did Simmons miss the entire 2021-22 season due to a back issue, or was he not mentally ready to play? Simmons says it was both, and one can cause the other. Sources told Shams Charania of The Athletic that Simmons explained to Nets officials in Monday’s meeting that “a mental block exists for him, dating in part to last summer’s postseason, which is creating stress that could serve as a trigger point for his back issues.”

Sources also told Charania that Simmons was pain-free for the majority of the past month. He began to complain of soreness again recently, which resulted in a scheduled scrimmage being pushed back. Simmons then took part in two scrimmages last week and another workout on Saturday. He did not express concerns immediately after Saturday’s workout but told the team on Sunday that his back was sore.

Nets players were surprised at what they perceived as a lack of effort by Simmons to push through his issues to help them in the postseason, according to Charania.

The Nets are obviously concerned, and you can understand why. One report claimed people close to the situation have already had enough of Simmons.

Simmons is signed through the 2024-25 season. Even if the Nets wanted to trade him this offseason, he has virtually no trade value. They will likely have to ride it out and hope for the best.

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