Brooklyn Nets guard Ben Simmons shot down a rumor Thursday regarding controversy within the Nets' team group chat.
Last month, FS1's Ric Bucher (h/t Nick Schwartz of Yahoo Sports) reported that Simmons left the team group chat when asked by his teammates if he would be playing in Game 4 of the Nets' first-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics.
Simmons was asked about the report during an appearance on The Old Man and The Three with former NBA guard JJ Redick, and he insisted that it wasn't true (beginning at the 45:44 mark):
"That's what I hate about the Internet. F--king people just make anything up, and it just gets taken too far," Simmons said. "But no, I didn't leave the group chat. ... I actually texted Patty [Mills] about that, and I was like, 'Yo, did I leave a group chat?' I was so confused, and he's like, 'Bro, no one even said anything in the group chat for like a month. There was nobody even talking in the group chat when we got to the playoffs."
The Nets acquired Simmons from the Philadelphia 76ers prior to last season's trade deadline as part of a package for All-Star guard James Harden.
Simmons did not play at all last season for the Sixers due to a combination of factors, including a back injury and mental health issues. The Nets had hoped that he would make his season debut after arriving in Brooklyn in the trade, but he couldn't shake the back ailment and ended up missing the entire season, including the playoffs.
The Nets were disappointingly swept out of the first round of the playoffs by the Celtics, marking the second consecutive season that they failed to make it past the second round despite a core of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Trade rumors engulfed the Nets this season, and there was an expectation that perhaps both Durant and Irving would be gone, but now all signs point toward the team remaining together for at least one more season.
Simmons underwent back surgery in May, and every indication is that he should be good to go for the start of the 2022-23 season next month, giving the Nets one of the most talented starting lineups in the NBA.
Durant and Irving are future Hall of Famers with championships on their resume, while Simmons is one of the best defensive players in the league when healthy.
The 26-year-old Simmons was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft by the Sixers, and while he missed his rookie season due to injury, he played well the following season and then reeled off three consecutive All-Star nods.
He also finished second in the NBA Defensive Player of the Year voting in 2021, but he was made a scapegoat for the 76ers' playoff failures that season, as he struggled mightily from the free-throw line and was tentative as a shooter from the field.
Simmons has his warts as a player, shooting just 59.7 percent from the free-throw line in his career and making 14.7 percent of his three-pointers, with 0.1 threes attempted per game.
His career averages of 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 1.7 steals are solid, though, and he should be a major asset for the Nets during the upcoming season.
Simmons laughed off the group-chat report and seems to be in a positive mindset entering the 2022-23 campaign, which bodes well for the Nets' chances of being contenders in the Eastern Conference.