ben simmons
Brad Penner | USA TODAY Sports

We have reached the extremely predictable part of the Nets’ gradual collapse when they realize Ben Simmons is a headache.

From The Athletic:

According to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the situation, the frustration surrounding Simmons had been building in recent weeks within the organization. The coaching staff and players have been concerned about his availability and level of play, with some questioning his passion for the game, those sources said. But even when he did play, Simmons’ struggles in his first nine games this season were part of the Nets frustration as well.

(…)

The level of exasperation toward Simmons bubbled to the surface on Oct. 29 when the Nets held a players-only meeting following a loss to the Pacers at Barclays Center. Sources with direct knowledge of the meeting, but who were granted anonymity so that they could speak freely say that in that meeting, Markieff Morris — a veteran leader on these Nets — spoke up in front of all of his teammates about how they need Simmons to succeed and that he has to respond when he deals with adversity on the court. Those sources all described a meeting where Simmons appeared to take Morris’ words in stride and was responsive and attentive throughout. … Sources tell The Athletic that team officials and teammates have been in regular contact with Simmons about how to make him comfortable.

Simmons is quoted in the report and does seem to be at least partly self-aware about his reputation. He insists he is “a competitor” who wants to play and win and that his injuries have been legitimate, but he acknowledges why many may not believe all of that. And he did have 11 points and five boards off the bench in Tuesday’s blowout loss to the Kings, so that is something, we suppose.

The Nets knew what they were getting when they acquired Simmons. They either need to make it work or get rid of him. The latter seems inevitable, but it will be entertaining as they attempt the former.

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James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.