Ben Simmons reportedly didn't appreciate it when his Brooklyn Nets teammates asked him if he planned on playing during the team's first-round exit against the Boston Celtics.
"They're having a team chat before Game 4, thinking he's going to play against the Celtics, and from what I'm told, Ben just left the chat," Ric Bucher told Colin Cowherd on FS1's The Herd last week (8:30 mark). "They asked him, 'Are you going to play?' Ben left the chat. Like he didn't even answer the question. Just left the chat."
The past year for Simmons has been one long saga.
The longtime Philadelphia 76ers point guard requested a trade from the team last summer and, after briefly reporting to practice in October, proceeded to stay away from the team into the regular season.
Simmons cited mental health issues as the reason for his absence, and the Sixers and Simmons' camp battled over the team's decision to withhold his salary and fine him during that time.
Ultimately, he was traded to the Nets in the deal that sent James Harden back to Philadelphia.
But Simmons never played for Brooklyn either, reportedly injuring his back while working on his conditioning over the winter.
As ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported in May, "Simmons had planned to return for Game 4 of the Nets' Eastern Conference first-round series against the Celtics, but a week-plus of pain-free days ended with pain soreness on the eve of Brooklyn's elimination."
Simmons ultimately had a microdiscectomy surgery to "address pain located in a herniated disk in his lower back," per Woj. That surgery was expected to include three to four months of rehabilitation.
When healthy, Simmons was one of the best and most versatile perimeter defenders in the NBA, adding solid transition playmaking and elite athleticism. But he never developed a consistent jump shot and was often criticized for his lack of offensive aggressiveness in Philadelphia, which came to a head when he attempted just four shots in the team's Game 7 loss against the Atlanta Hawks in the 2021 Eastern Conference semifinals, infamously passing up a wide-open dunk in the fourth quarter of that game.
When Simmons was traded to Brooklyn, there was excitement that his defense and playmaking would fit well with a pair of offensive juggernauts in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. With the uncertainty of that pair's future in Brooklyn coming to a head this summer, however, it's now possible that the trio will never actually take the court together.
So if, or when, Simmons does play for the Nets this season, there are very real questions about which teammates will even be on the group chat.