Mental health remains front and center of Ben Simmons’ comeback after meeting Brooklyn Nets, sources say

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During a meeting with Brooklyn Nets management on Monday afternoon, Ben Simmons and Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul spoke about the physical and mental obstacles that remain in the All-Stars’ pursuit of a return to play, a discussion that made it clear to attendees the need to continue to address the mental side of this process, sources told ESPN.

Simmons reiterated what he’s always said to team officials since joining the Philadelphia 76ers on Feb. 10: He wants to play and play for the Nets as soon as possible, and still isn’t ruling out that happening this season if the Nets survive Monday. elimination game against the Boston Celtics, sources said. Boston leads the best-of-seven series 3-0.

The Nets have made it clear to Simmons and Paul that the organization plans to continue giving the three-time All-Star all the resources it needs in the short and long term, sources said.

After nearly two weeks of painless buildup, the Nets and Simmons thought he was on his way to play until Simmons arrived at the team’s practice facility on Sunday, reporting a return of aches and pains. back. Simmons had rehabilitated a herniated disc in his lower back and repeatedly expressed his desire to return to this series against the Celtics and, perhaps, provide some defense for Boston’s elite wingers Jayson Tatum and Jaylen. Brown.

The Nets were clearly disappointed Sunday to learn that Simmons, 25, is describing his physical setback, but Monday’s conversations with Simmons and Paul were described as frank and detailed about the challenges that remain and reaffirming the idea that Simmons is determined to find his way back to court, sources said.

Simmons, a three-time All-Star and 2017 NBA Rookie of the Year, has three years and $114 million remaining on his contract after this season.

Although Simmons wasn’t able to square off with the Nets’ starters, there was still hope that his presence on the field could help a struggling team — and get him back in a game of the NBA for the first time this season. .

A disappointing performance in the 2021 Eastern Conference Semifinals as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers sparked a turbulent 10 months of trade demands, mental health issues and back issues. Simmons arrived with the Nets along with Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two future first-round picks in a blockbuster trade Feb. 10 that sent James Harden to the 76ers. Simmons filed a grievance challenging the nearly $20 million in salary withheld by the 76ers this season.

Philadelphia has repeatedly insisted that Simmons breached his contract under the collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association and was entitled to recoup money advanced to him before the season. The NBA and NBPA are at odds on the issue, and now arbitration could set a precedent for how future mental health and contract issues could be handled. The 76ers insisted that Simmons breached his playing contract by not showing up at the start of training camp and refusing to play through the preseason and regular season.

Simmons arrived in Philadelphia late in the preseason but cited his sanity for the reason his participation in team activities was so limited. The 76ers and Simmons disagreed on the degrees of access the team and its doctors have been given to Simmons to diagnose and affirm his sanity.

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