Brooklyn Boro

Nets’ Simmons ready to ball for Aussies

Rehabbing swingman eager to participate in FIBA World Cup

May 10, 2023 John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Ben Simmons was a no-go for the Brooklyn Nets’ final 23 regular-season games and their ill-fated first-round playoff series against his former team.

But the versatile guard/forward is reportedly gearing up for a run at a gold medal with his fellow Australian’s at this summer’s FIBA World Cup.

The 26-year-old Simmons, who arrived in Downtown Brooklyn via the February 2022 trade that sent James Harden to Philadelphia, was hampered by back and knee issues during the Nets’ stretch run toward the playoffs this past season.

He was deemed out for the playoffs by head coach Jacque Vaughn ahead of Brooklyn clinching the No. 6 seed.

Though its hard to point to Simmons as a major factor in the Nets’ humbling four-game ouster at the hands of the 76ers, the Melbourne native is still under contract here in Brooklyn and his international participation may serve his current team well, if he proves capable of performing at a high level.

Simmons, who was the NBA’s Rookie of the Year in 2018 before being tabbed a three-time All-Star, never suited up for the Sixers or the Nets in 2022-23, citing mental health concerns and a herniated disk for his empty campaign.

Last season, Simmons averaged 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists per contest for Brooklyn over 42 games.

He only played four times after the Nets jettisoned Kyrie Irving to Dallas and Kevin Durant to Phoenix ahead of the trade deadline, watching from the bench as new additions Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson helped Brooklyn avoid the play-in tournament.

“After consulting with our doctors, multiple specialists, he’s just going to begin a rehab program,” Vaughn said of Simmons back in March. “Our doctors and the specialists feel and think that he’ll have a full recovery so that starts now.”

With the Nets prepared to wheel and deal in next month’s NBA Draft at Barclays Center, Simmons’ health and status may be vital to their reshaping of a roster that has already undergone an in-season overhaul.

If Simmons appears fit and ready to compete when the tournament begins in late August, he may be in a different uniform if general manager Sean Marks can make a move on draft night.

Simmons would be a good fit with Portland if they deal All-Star point guard Damian Lillard to Brooklyn. He’d also be a good addition to the Nets’ lineup if they choose to keep their multiple picks and build through the draft.

But his ability to remain on the court throughout a full campaign will not be known until he actually hits the hardwood in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia this summer.

“I think his mindset is getting healthy, getting in shape and getting ready to play in this [World Cup],” Team Australia head coach Brian Goorjian said last week.

“There were unfortunate circumstances [why he didn’t play at the Olympics in Tokyo], but I feel like he is going to make himself available.”

The Nets haven’t seen Simmons compete for them since Feb. 15 vs. Miami here on the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush.

Whether he winds up having any value to the Nets, either as a trade piece or a returning player, may be decided by draft night or later this year, when he competes in international competition for the first time since 2014.

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The St. Francis Brooklyn men’s tennis team saw its NEC championship season end with a 4-0 loss to Columiba in the NCAA Tournament. Photo courtesy of SFC Brooklyn Athletics

In local college sports news, the St. Francis Brooklyn men’s tennis team saw its final season end with a Northeast Conference championship before the Terriers lost their opening-round NCAA Tournament match last Friday to Columbia, 4-0, at the United States Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.

The Terriers (10-11, 6-1 NEC) got blanked by the Ivy League champs, who are ranked 13th in the nation. The Lions won both doubles matches before a third was completed nad grabbed No. 1, No. 3 and No. 5 singles to wrap up the victory.

Though they will not return in 2024, the Terriers won nine of their final 11 matches in program history, including a 4-2 triumph over Fairleigh Dickinson last month in the NEC Final.

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Brooklyn College ace Danielle Guzzardi will be on the hill Thursday at BC FIeld, where the Bulldogs will meet top-seeded John Jay in the CUNYAC Championships. Photo courtesy of BC Athletics

The Brooklyn College women’s softball team reached its first CUNYAC Championship Tournament since 2014 this week, clinching the No. 4 seed and a first-round matchup with top-seeded John Jay at Brooklyn College Field on Thursday.

The Bulldogs (12-15, 5-5 CUNYAC) are spearheaded by sophomore hurler Danielle Guzzardi, who went 12-14 with a 4.60 ERA and five shutouts during the regular season.

BC will compete at least twice in the double-elimination tournament, with its second game to come against the winner or loser of the contest between No. 2 Baruch and No. 3 Hunter.


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