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Nets’ Simmons says Sixers unsupportive amid mental health struggle

Australian NBA guard Ben Simmons said in a podcast posted Thursday that he didn’t feel supported by the Philadelphia 76ers as he dealt with mental health issues.

Simmons hadn’t played a game for the Sixers in the 2021-22 season when he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets in the deal that sent James Harden to Philadelphia last February.

Simmons was the 2018 NBA rookie of the year and an NBA All-Star for the next three seasons, but he was devastated by the Sixers’ loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the 2021 playoffs and never reported to training camp the following season.

“I was in such a bad place,” Simmons said on The Old Man & the Three podcast hosted by former teammate JJ Redick. “I’m trying to get here and you guys are, like, throwing all these other things at me to where you’re not helping.

“And that’s all I wanted, was help. I didn’t feel like I got it from coaches, teammates — I won’t say all teammates, because there’s great guys on that team that did reach out and are still my friends. But I didn’t feel like I got that, and it was just a tough place for me.”

To make matters more complicated, Simmons also battled a back injury last year. Ultimately he didn’t play a game for either the Sixers or the Nets, but after back surgery in May has said he’s looking forward to being a contributor for Brooklyn.

In the podcast, Simmons also talked about his widely-derided decision to pass up a wide-open shot at the rim in game six of the post-season loss to the Hawks.

He said he thought Atlanta’s Trae Young was in good position to defend him so he opted to pass the ball. He didn’t realize until he looked at replays how much room he had.

Redick empathized, but noted that the play “looks really bad”/

“It looks terrible,” Simmons said. “When I look at it now, I’m like, ‘Man I should have just punched that … But it didn’t happen.”

“I can live with that,” Simmons added. “Everyone’s trying to kill me over one play, like, does everyone want to watch film with me? The whole arena? I can dissect everything if you guys want, but it’s not realistic.”

Now, Simmons told Redick, he’s looking to the future. He is expected to be ready to join Nets teammates Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving for training camp later this month.

“It’s going to be sick. I can’t wait,” Simmons said. “I’m so excited. Got a new number, new jersey. I’m just looking forward to it. I think we have a special team.

“I think if we get it all together, we’re going to be the champions. That’s the end goal.”

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