NBA Notes: Nets, Ben Simmons, Blazers, Damian Lillard, Lakers


Guard/forward Ben Simmons is still getting up to speed after missing all of last season, coach Steve Nash said.

“Yes. Yeah. That’s a little rust, the confidence not only physically, but with the rhythm of the game, to go to the basket,” Nash said, via Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “You can see him trying at times, and that’s great. We want to keep pushing him to try to break through and force the issue, even if he makes mistakes, just so that we can see him be aggressive and start to find a rhythm for doing so. … It’s not easy for him. It’s been a long time, new group and a back surgery. Add it all up and we have to have some patience with him.”

The Nets have been encouraging Simmons to shoot more, with Kyrie Irving once clearly imploring him to take a shot during Wednesday’s loss to the Bucks.

“When I passed it to him I felt like he had a layup at the rim,” Irving said, per Nick Friedell of ESPN. “And I looked him eye to eye and I was like, “Shoot it, Ben!” And of course, again, it’s just a clip. It’s a full game that we can look at and dissect, and that’s what I’ll do. This is a big-picture thing. We want Ben to be aggressive every single play, we want him to get an assist every single play, we want him to rebound, we want him to play against the best player, we want him to do all the things we know he’s capable of, but at this time he’s going to have to work himself into his own confidence and feel good about himself.

“I’m not going to say I’m being patient or humble about it, but the reality is that we’re just going to keep having to try this experiment every single night until we get the right recipe.”

Trail Blazers

Star guard Damian Lillard exited Wednesday’s loss to the Heat with a calf strain, but he doesn’t appear to think it’s anything serious and he shouldn’t be out long.

“Honestly, if this was a playoff game, I would have played,” Lillard said, per Jason Quick of The Athletic. “(The calf) would have been tight and uncomfortable, but I would have played. If that gives you any indication of how concerned I am now or would have been … I feel if it would have been on the line, I would have played.”

After missing the second half of last season following abdominal surgery, Lillard said he has altered his approach to nagging injuries early in the year.

“My perspective has changed, and I want to be in it for the duration, for the long haul of the season,” Lillard said, via Quick. “It’s early. We’ve gotten off to a good start, things feel good, and I haven’t felt this good since my second or third year. Everything I did this summer is adding up: I feel fast, I feel strong, I don’t get tired, and I don’t want to lose that. So I have to be patient, and I can’t get ahead of myself.”


  • The Lakers’ 0-4 mark is their worst since the 2015-16, when they were coached by Byron Scott and finished 17-65. They also started 0-4 the season before that, finishing 21-61. That year (2014-15), Russell Westbrook led the NBA in scoring as a member of the Thunder (28.1 ppg).
  • The team’s issues clearly go beyond former coach Frank Vogel, and that has become painfully evident, wrote Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. While many of the Lakers’ struggles were blamed on Vogel last season, things have been every bit as bad under first-time head coach Darvin Ham.

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