Ben Simmons said Tuesday he is mentally ready to return to basketball following his trade to the Brooklyn Nets after a turbulent end to his Philadelphia 76ers career.
The Australian star has not played at all this season after requesting a trade from the Sixers in August, citing mental health issues.
The 25-year-old point guard finally got his wish last week when he secured a move to Brooklyn as part of the deal that sent Nets star James Harden in the opposite direction.
Simmons told an introductory press conference on Tuesday he was looking forward to returning to the court next month, and hopes to be ready to face the Sixers when the Nets travel to Philadelphia on March 10.
Simmons did not go into detail about the reasons for his departure when probed by journalist on Tuesday,
“If I knew, I would tell you everything,” Simmons said.
“But there’s just a lot of things internally that had to happen over time. And it just got to a place where I don’t think it was good for me mentally. So it is what it is. It happened, and I’m moving forward.”
Simmons’ Sixers career soured last year after the team bowed out of the playoffs to the Atlanta Hawks. Simmons was criticised for his failure to take a shooting opportunity towards the end of the series-deciding game seven.
At the time Sixers coach Doc Rivers openly questioned whether he considered Simmons to be a championship-caliber player.
Simmons was suspended by the Sixers for the opening game of the season in October after a bust-up with Rivers. Tensions also flared when Sixers star Joel Embiid accused Simmons of “disrespecting” his team-mates.
Simmons on Tuesday said he was eager to resurrect his carrer after overcoming his personal demons.
“For me, it was just making sure mentally I was right to get out there and play again,” Simmons said.
“That’s something I’ve been dealing with. It wasn’t about the [Philadelphia] fans, or coaches or comments made by anybody. It was just a personal thing for me…
“It is something that I continue to deal with and I’m getting there and getting to the right place to get back on the floor.”