Ben Simmons’ return to social media after a two month hiatus came amid rumours whirling about the Australian’s private life and recent reports regarding a text chat with his fellow Brooklyn Nets teammates.
Reports in the UK questioned the Aussie’s relationship status with British model Maja Jama, with claims the NBA player and his partner had called off their engagement.
On top of that, NBA insider Ric Bucher, said Simmons left a group chat without replying to his teammates who asked him to play in their must-win game four against the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs, which Boston went on to win.
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“They’re having a team chat before game four, thinking he’s going to play against the Boston Celtics,” Bucher said on Fox Sports in the US.
“From what I’m told, Ben just left the chat. They asked him, ‘Are you going to play?’ Ben left the chat. Like he didn’t even answer the question, just left the chat. And K.D. [Kevin Durant] is like, ‘This is what I signed up for? This is who I’m playing with?'”
The Nets guard tweeted, “slow news day,” with a crying-laughing emoji in his return to the social media platform, but it’s unclear which story he’s referring to.
Ben Simmons during a Brooklyn pre-game (Nine)
The Athletic’s Shams Charania denied Bucher’s report during an appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show.”
“This never happened … it’s an amazing story but it didn’t happen,” said Charania, who is managed by Simmons’ agent Rich Paul.
A three-time All-Star, Simmons is currently training in New York and continuing recovery from May back surgery.
“He’s looking good,” Charania said. “There are high expectations [in Brooklyn] for Simmons. He’s supposed to be ready for training camp … and he’s doing more and more on the court.”
The news regarding Simmons comes as teammate Kevin Durant again told Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai that he wants to be traded, reiterating a request he first made nearly six weeks ago, a person with knowledge of the matter confirmed to the Associated Press.
Durant also told Tsai that he has concerns about the Nets’ direction under coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks, said the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither the perennial All-Star nor the team confirmed details of the talks publicly.
The Athletic first reported details of the latest Durant-Tsai meeting.
“Our front office and coaching staff have my support,” Tsai tweeted Monday night. “We will make decisions in the best interest of the Brooklyn Nets.”
Ben Simmons in street clothes at game three. (Getty)
This is the latest phase of a saga that began June 30, when Durant told the Nets he wanted a trade just as this summer’s free agent period was beginning. Durant isn’t a free agent; he has four years and $284 million remaining on his contract with the Nets, who will undoubtedly demand a haul of players and draft picks in any trade agreement for the 12-time All-Star, four-time scoring champion, three-time Olympic gold medallist and two-time NBA champion.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has never been a fan of trade demands going public.
“This needs to be a two-way street,” Silver said last month. “Teams provide enormous security and guarantees to players and the expectation is, in return, they will meet their end of the bargain. I’m realistic that there’s always conversations that are going to go on behind closed doors between players and their representatives and the teams. But we don’t like to see players requesting trades, and we don’t like to see it playing out the way it is.”
Durant has spent three seasons with Brooklyn, not playing in the first of those years while he recovered from a torn Achilles. He averaged 29.9 points in 55 games last season, after leading the USA to Olympic gold at the Tokyo Games last summer.
– Additional reporting by Sacha Mirzabegian
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