NBA Notes: Nets, Ben Simmons, Lakers, Kawhi Leonard

Nets

Ben Simmons is expected to debut for the Nets this season, and he may have extra motivation, given all the negative comments he sees on social media.

Much of it relates to his lack of perimeter shooting.

“I think for a while it was just — it’s so repetitive, you’re hearing it all the time from everybody,” Simmons said on the J.J. Redick podcast, via James Herbert of CBS Sports. “And you’re like, f—ing hell. Like, just get off my case, I do other stuff, too. I’m guarding the best players. That’s one thing, I don’t think people respect that enough, what I’m bringing to the court. ‘Cause there’s a lot of shit I’m bringing to the court. And for me, I just want to win. So people also don’t understand my goal is to purely win. I don’t go out there, I’m not trying to have this many points, whatever it is. my goal is to win, so I’m trying to do whatever I can during the game to make the right plays and the right reads to help my team win. 

“But that is for sure frustrating. But it’s also one of my weaknesses, so it’s like, what, am I going to get mad at people for saying I’m not good at something? OK, yeah, cool, I’m going to practice and get better. It is what it is. And that’s just a part of the game.”

Redick then asked Simmons if Simmons’ outside shooting struggles were made a bigger deal than they should have been.

“For sure,” Simmons said. “100 percent. No, for sure. And I didn’t really realize that early on in my career. And it started building up. I’m like, They’re saying I can’t, should I not? I’m f—in’ confused now. You don’t want me to shoot, but you want me to shoot? Like, I don’t know. So it did f— with me a lot. But I kind of found peace in a place where I’m just like, f— it, it’s basketball, like, I’m great at the game, I need to go out there and show people what I can do and my talent. So it did for a while, I was just like f—ed up a little.”

Regardless, Simmons said he’s excited for a new chapter, joining Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving with the high-powered Nets.

“I can’t wait, I’m so excited,” he said. “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. So that’s the end goal.”

Lakers

Former Celtics star and current analyst Paul Pierce doesn’t even the Lakers suddenly turning into contenders this season.

Pierce cited the age of LeBron James, the injury history of Anthony Davis and a lack of role players as reasons for concern.

“I’m not seeing the Lakers as a legit contender,” Pierce said on a podcast hosted by Kevin Garnett, via Brad Sullivan of Lakers Daily. “For one, LeBron is a year older. Yeah, he averaged 30, but how much longer can he do that? And now you’re gonna put that pressure on him at the age of 37, 38 to go out there and help carry AD? He can’t stay healthy. But then who the other moving pieces? Who your role players?”

Pierce speaks the truth on James, who turns 38 in December. But he did more than just score. Along with averaging 30.3 points, James tallied 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists.

That said, the Lakers couldn’t even qualify for the play-in tournament after a 33-49 finish. Russell Westbrook proved to be a clunky fit — and while the roster is younger this season, a lot of people will tell you it’s not much better.

Clippers

Star forward Kawhi Leonard has been cleared for five-on-five play ahead of training camp, per Andrew Grief of the Los Angeles Times.

Leonard missed all of last season after suffering a torn ACL in the 2021 playoffs. 

Clippers president Lawrence Frank said that Leonard “feels great” ahead of camp, per Grief. Frank added that fellow Clippers star Paul George is also “100 percent” and ready to go.

Leonard and George will now be teaming with point guard John Wall, the former No. 1 overall who was out all of last season while with the Rockets.

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