NEW YORK (AP) — Ben Simmons is set to begin training camp next week with no restrictions after two injury-shortened seasons in Brooklyn.
If he stays healthy, Simmons may even be able to return to his roots as a point guard.
Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said Tuesday that the former All-Star has been playing 5-on-5 this summer and will have an expanded role offensively if he can avoid further injuries.
Simmons didn’t play after the All-Star break last season, slowed by a sore left knee and then shut down early because of a nerve injury in his back. Simmons had largely fallen out of the rotation even before then, with Vaughn now saying he his learned through their discussions this summer that the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft simply didn’t have the strength to do some of the things his coach wanted after undergoing back surgery the previous offseason.
“But the things that I’m asking him to do going forward, I think he can physically do now,” Vaughn said.
Simmons still views himself as a lead guard, the position he played while earning three All-Star selections in Philadelphia. He played as a forward or backup center last season in Brooklyn, where Kyrie Irving was the point guard when Simmons arrived in a trade for James Harden in February 2022.
With Irving now in Dallas and Simmons seemingly back at full strength, Vaughn said their agreement is that Simmons will be able to play the way he wants if he shows he can handle it.
“I think if Ben is able to play consistently in a certain way, there’s no doubt then that he should have the basketball in his hands,” Vaughn said. “You have to guard him with the basketball in his hands.”