The latest scapegoat for Ben Simmons’ back issues? His agent
4 mins read

The latest scapegoat for Ben Simmons’ back issues? His agent

Remember when NBA Twitter, now NBA X, spent an entire season obsessing over where Ben Simmons would be traded? It ended up being Brooklyn, and that ended up being the last time he was relevant to professional basketball. The latest update is there is no update, just Simmons’ agent, Bernie Lee, falling on his client’s sword.

Since joining the Nets, the former All-NBA guard has been hampered by back and mental health issues. Unfortunately, the former has limited him to just 57 appearances out of a possible 128. This season, Simmons’ tally is just 15 games.

What’s the reason, you ask? I’ll let Lee tell you (via SNY).

“It is a continuation of the same injury that he has dealt with all year. … We are trying to get clearer answers as to how to get him out of the reactive cycle he’s in.

“… We continue to try and find non-surgical options to allow Ben to move forward on a permanent basis and that is where this is my responsibility and I am [the] one to blame.

“When I began working with Ben I made a commitment to him that I would do everything I could to find the right answers and specialists for him to work with [in order] to move forward from the issues he has been having. Clearly it hasn’t happened and that’s my responsibility.”

That’s, uh, that’s something. While Bernie’s intentions are good, the reasoning is foolish. Whatever happened with Simmons’ back — it’s been dubbed a “nerve impingement” — has persisted, and though I’m far from a medical professional, that’s what usually happens with back problems.

So Lee can praise Simmons for taking “less than seven days off” all he wants, or put the onus on himself to find the proper medical care, but he doesn’t have to. To be honest, it’s likely impossible for the former No. 1 overall pick to “resume his career at the levels he’s established prior to being injured.”

The better question might be: Does Ben want to resume his career at the level he established? It’s a legitimate question. From everything I’ve heard, back issues, especially nerve pain, are the definition of debilitating. They’re also mysterious because treatment varies, as do patients’ responses to them.

Other guys were able to gut out similar ailments — Paul Pierce and Tyson Chandler did it in the 2012-13 season with pinched nerves in their necks. The Celtic guard played 77 games, averaging 18, 6 and 4. Chandler logged 66 games and made the Eastern Conference All-Star team as a Knick. On the other side of the spectrum, Dwight Howard only managed nine appearances during his lone season in Washington as a result of a pinched nerve in his butt.

Of those three notable NBA hoopers, which one would you say Simmons closest resembles from a passion-for-the-game standpoint? All together now: “Dwight Howard.” Kobe Bryant famously hated Howard’s approach to the game, and the New York Post cited Simmons’ health as the reason Kevin Durant bounced out of Brooklyn.

While KD was traded midway through last season, Simmons’ back stuff was an uncertainty since arriving from Philadelphia, and clearly, Durant wasn’t interested in waiting around for whatever was wrong to be fixed. As he’s told us through his actions, Simmons is more than content to chill courtside.

I’m not saying Ben Simmons isn’t hurt. It’s likely he is because the 2023-24 Nets are his dream scenario — zero accountability, enough empty stats to garner another contract and top billing on the marquee. I’m just saying if given the option to rest, and still get paid the $38 million owed to him this year, or play at less than 100 percent and risk more public scorn, which do you think Ben Simmons would choose?

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