Stephen A. Smith ripped Ben Simmons during ESPN’s “NBA Countdown” on Friday as the three-time All-Star struggles through his first healthy season with the Brooklyn Nets.
“Ben Simmons, it’s a sad situation,” Smith said. “And I don’t mean this literally, because obviously, he’s not doing it, but one would say, he is stealing money.”
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Smith’s comments came one day after Simmons was ejected during Brooklyn’s loss to the Suns after posting a poor stat line consisting of seven points, six assists and five fouls.
“Let’s call it what it is y’all,” Smith said later. “Ben Simmons got ejected last night on purpose. That’s just me talking.”
The incident was another chapter in what has been a disappointing season for the former No. 1 overall pick. Simmons is averaging 7.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 6.3 assists and 27.4 minutes per game — all of which are career lows. Simmons missed all of last season with a back injury.
In 2019, Simmons signed a $A240 million deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, but when he was traded to the Nets last season, with around $A163m still to pay over this and the next two seasons.
Jalen Rose agreed with Smith’s assessment of Simmons this season.
“Ben Simmons is stealing money, ski mask and gloves,” Rose said, citing the guard having 119 fouls, 113 baskets and shooting 43 per cent from the free throw line.
Despite a win Friday night over the Jazz, the Nets have stumbled since Kevin Durant went down with a knee injury earlier this month. Brooklyn has gone 1-4 and posted the league’s ninth-worst Net Rating over that period.
This story first appeared in the New York Post and was republished with permission.