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#pounditSunday, April 21, 2024

Mikal Bridges sheds light on Nets’ surprising relationship with Ben Simmons

Mikal Bridges looking on

Feb 8, 2020; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges (25) high fives fans while entering the court for the game against the Denver Nuggets at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Simmons has gone from an All-NBA talent to an enigmatic afterthought in just a couple of seasons.

The Brooklyn Nets point forward is a 3-time All-Star who was a Defensive Player of the Year runner-up in the 2020-21 season. At 27 years old, Simmons is at the age when most NBA stars are just beginning to enter their prime years.

However, Simmons is coming off the worst season of his career by far. He averaged career lows across the board: 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 6.1 assists in just 42 games played. He also shot a brutal 43.9% from the free throw line.

After his lackluster campaign, Nets were reportedly dangling Simmons as a trade piece this offseason.

Despite Simmons’ downturn over the last two seasons, Nets teammate Mikal Bridges has “big confidence” in his Australian ally. Bridges was asked about Simmons during a recent appearance on “Podcast P with Paul George.” The Villanova alum stated that Simmons is slowly getting back to form, both physically and mentally.

Bridges also shared some details on how the former Sixer has been interacting with the rest of the team.

“F–ks with all of us, like we’re close,” said Bridges. “He’s the one talking in the chat all the time and we all f–k with him. Obviously, we want him to score. But we ain’t [sic] pressed about it.”

Fans might be surprised to hear that Simmons has been chatty in the Nets’ current group chat. There were rumors that Simmons left the team’s chat entirely during the 2022 playoffs, as he watched Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving get swept by the Boston Celtics.

George followed up by asking what Bridges what he can do to serve as a “support system” for Simmons, who’s been open about his mental health issues.

“Just be there with him, man,” the Nets forward responded. “Support him. S–t, even if you struggle. That’s cool. Whatever city we in, we’re going to hang out. Go get dinner. Get ready for the next one. That’s the biggest thing — that he can be confident enough to fail and know that we’re there for him.”

Simmons has played under pressure for most of his NBA career. Both teams he’s played for thus far — the Nets and Sixers — held title aspirations and fielded MVP-caliber players alongside him.

Barring any drastic roster changes heading into next season, Simmons will enter as the lone player on the Nets’ roster that has made an All-Star team.

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