NBA

Steve Nash hopeful but unsure if Ben Simmons will play before regular season ends

By Sports Desk March 15, 2022

Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash said he is hopeful of Ben Simmons debuting with his new team before the playoffs, but indicated it is far from a sure thing.

With only 14 games to play before the postseason begins, Simmons still has not been cleared to practice due to a back injury that has only worsened since arriving in Brooklyn.

The Nets have shown they can win without Simmons for the time being – including a dominant performance in Philadelphia against former team-mate James Harden – but to be a serious title contender, the former first overall pick will need to play a significant role.

Currently occupying the eight-seed in the Eastern Conference, Brooklyn have an uphill battle to try to make up the four games they sit behind the six-seed Cleveland Cavaliers to avoid the play-in tournament and secure a guaranteed playoff berth.

While he has not been able to participate in team practices, Nash said the team are trying to get Simmons as involved as possible and build the necessary chemistry, and that he has "extremely high hopes that we'll see him in the regular season".

"The biggest thing we've tried to do is to have him be involved in everything," Nash said. 

"The travelling is the one caveat, where sometimes you're weighing the cost-benefit of him on aeroplanes and buses and different beds. 

"When he's with us, we want him in every meeting, in every walkthrough, in every film session, whatever it may be, so he's around the group. 

"We'd love for him to travel, be with the team all the time, but we have to weigh that scenario as well."

While Simmons is a "perfect fit" for Brooklyn's team construction and style, according to Nash, there is no way to simulate on-court repetitions alongside stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

"I think he has a pretty good understanding [of what the Nets are doing]," the coach said.  "Now, has his focus been on learning what we're doing? No, it's been on getting better. 

"We've had him around, we want him to learn, but there's a lot going on when you're desperately trying to fight to get on the court.

"I don't expect him to be totally dialled in on what we're doing, because part of that is also feel; getting out there with your team-mates, seeing how it fits. 

"I think he'll be a perfect fit for our guys – but some of that stuff is also getting out there and doing it, learning on the fly, rather than reading it off the notes."

Related items

  • LeBron James trading card sells for $2.4million LeBron James trading card sells for $2.4million

    A trading card of NBA star LeBron James has sold at auction with collectibles marketplace Goldin for $2.4million, including buyer's premium.

    The unique 2020-21 Panini Flawless Triple Logoman of James includes embedded segments of the 37-year-old's game-worn jerseys from his time at the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers.

    It had been anticipated that it could break the all-time record for a sports trading card, which is a Honus Wagner baseball card that was sold for $6.6m in 2021.

    Panini's 2020-21 Flawless release included five Triple Logoman cards, made up of patches from three-star players, though James' was the only card that features three patches from one player.

    The four other cards include patches from Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry; Draymond Green, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson; Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball and Tyrese Haliburton, and Jayson Tatum, Luka Doncic and Zion Williamson.

  • Paolo Banchero calls expectations of being top pick 'nothing I'm not used to' Paolo Banchero calls expectations of being top pick 'nothing I'm not used to'

    Paolo Banchero feels he is more than ready to meet the challenge of the NBA and the expectations that come with being the number one overall pick.  

    In his only season at Duke, the 6-foot-10 Banchero averaged a team-best 17.2 points per game and grabbed 7.8 rebounds, while handing out 3.2 assists. He also didn’t shrink in big moments, scoring at least 16 points in all five of the Blue Devils’ NCAA Tournament games this year. 

    Banchero was something of a surprise as the top selection in Thursday’s NBA Draft, with many having Auburn’s Jabari Smith pegged as the Orlando Magic’s top choice. He said he didn’t even know he would go first overall until about 30 seconds before NBA commissioner Adam Silver took the stage to announce his name.  

    "It all happened pretty fast," he said. "I didn’t even have time to really think about it or anything. It just kind of happened. I can’t believe it, but I’m ready."

    Banchero arrived in Orlando on Friday and will next begin a whirlwind of activity before starting workouts next week for the Magic’s July 7 opener at NBA Summer League.  

    "There's going to be high expectations for myself that I'm going to hold myself to and that everyone is going to hold myself to," Banchero said. "But I feel like it's nothing I'm not used to.

    "It was the same thing for me heading into college, throughout high school, a lot of expectations. It's been like that my whole life." 

    The Magic did work out Smith, and listened to teams that called about obtaining the first pick in a trade, but Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley said in the end, the team felt that Banchero was the best player at the college level this past season and would be the best fit. 

    "There's things that you're grabbing from each [top player in the draft] that you're like, 'Oh, man, wow, that can be great for us','' he said.

    "But then it ultimately comes down to, 'How does that fit for us? How do we jell with them in the locker room? How are they treating people when they're walking in?' – because all those pieces play a factor, and I think we've done an incredible job with those details." 

    The Magic are a combined 43-111 in the past two seasons, have made the playoffs just twice in the last 10 years and haven’t won a round in the postseason since 2009-10.  

  • Charlotte Hornets re-hire former head coach Steve Clifford Charlotte Hornets re-hire former head coach Steve Clifford

    The Who famously sang "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss" – and the Charlotte Hornets are taking that to heart. 

    In one of the more surprising coaching hirings in recent memory, the Hornets are bringing back Steve Clifford for a second stint as head coach of the team.  

    Clifford was Charlotte’s bench boss for five seasons and guided the team to two playoff appearances before he was fired following the 2017-18 season, and then hired a few weeks later by the Orlando Magic. He compiled a 196-214 record with the Hornets and is 292-345 in eight seasons as an NBA coach.

    His best season in Charlotte came in 2015-16 when the Hornets went 48-34 and lost in seven games to the Miami Heat in the first round the playoffs. 

    The Hornets initially offered the job to Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson, but he later told the team he was backing out due to family reasons. 

    "I think [Atkinsons] would have been a good pick, but if he’s not comfortable here I would rather find out now then a year from now," Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak said Thursday night at the NBA Draft.  

    This time, Clifford inherits a team that is more talented than any of his previous Charlotte squads with All-Star point guard LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward and Miles Bridges.  

    The Hornets finished last season with the league’s eighth-ranked offense, but were weak defensively, and allowed 132 points in a 29-point loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the play-in elimination game last season. Outgoing head coach James Borrego was also criticised for failing to play young, emerging talent, instead opting to give minutes to established veterans who lacked upside.

    Defense has been the organisation’s priority in seeking a new leader, and Clifford has long been considered one of the NBA’s top defensive coaches. The Hornets finished sixth, 10th, ninth, 17th and 17th in defensive rating during his five seasons. They were 22nd this past season under Borrego, who was fired in April.  

     

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.