Durant is open about Nets while Irving is absent, Simmons fights

Shortly after the Brooklyn Nets suffered their biggest loss of the season on Tuesday, Kevin Durant didn’t hide his feelings about his 6-9 roster.

In an interview with Bleacher Report, Durant said that while he’s enjoying his current tenure with the Nets, he acknowledges the reality of the situation he’s in, specifically that Kyrie Irving is suspended and Ben Simmons is struggling to get back in to come into shape.

“Check out our starting line-up: Edmond Sumner, Royce O’Neale, Joe Harris, [Nic] Claxton and I. It’s not disrespect, but what do you expect from this group?” Durant told Bleacher Report. “You expect us to win because I’m out there. So if you’re watching from that lens, expect us to play well because the number 7 is out there.

Durant also told Bleacher Report that the rationale for his summer trade request “was ball,” and recalled telling the networks, “I don’t like how we’re preparing. …Hold me accountable. Get on my ass a movie if it helps you get on everyone else’s nerves.”

Nets are reportedly frustrated with Ben Simmons availability and the level of play

Nets are reportedly frustrated with Ben Simmons availability and the level of play

Shannon Sharpe and Skip Bayless discuss whether or not Ben Simmons is hopeless after big battles for the season opener.

Durant eventually rescinded his trade request, but Brooklyn took another big step earlier in the season by firing coach Steve Nash. Durant told Bleacher Report he likes how Jacque Vaughn – who was first named interim coach before being promoted to a full-time role in early November – is preparing the team even after giving up 153 points to the Kings on Tuesday.

“I just like good practice, I like good preparation, I like good energy, and we showed that, to be honest,” Durant said. “The coaches did a great job. … I think we have prepared well. The boys want to win. We play as hard as we can. That’s really what I need.”

While Durant offered a rather bullish tone about the Nets’ prospects, that sentiment doesn’t seem to be universal in Brooklyn.

The Nets are still debating when to reinstate Irving following his recent suspension. Additionally, regarding former All-Star Simmons, the team’s coaches and players are “concerned about his availability and level of play, with some questioning his passion for the game,” The Athletic reported Wednesday.

Simmons, who missed all of last season after requesting a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers before suffering a back injury, has averaged just 5.8 points per game so far this season. And as revealed Tuesday night, Simmons’ All-NBA defensive prowess could be a thing of the past.

Simmons recently told The Athletic that while he understands the concerns surrounding his recent return to the court, he has been struggling with injuries in the first month of the season.

“…I’ve been dealing with the knee since the start of the season,” Simmons revealed. “It’s swollen. I had PRP (injections). I’ve had blood drawn a few times. So it’s not a made up thing, you know? It’s a real thing.

“I understand (the skepticism) but I think the only thing about me is that I’m a competitor. I want to win and play. So I’ll do what I can to get out of this.”

Simmons has missed five games this season and has come off the bench in his last four appearances.

Shannon Sharpe said Wednesday it might be time to consider Simmons a “lost cause” but not because of the injuries he’s been dealing with this season.

“I still don’t think Ben Simmons got out of that mental fog that happened to him in Philly,” Sharpe said on Undisputed. “Sometimes it feels like a hurt because sometimes we can create our own demons and we have to drive those things away.

“Ben is not the same. … I don’t want to sit here and say he doesn’t love the game, but he doesn’t even resemble him [his old self]. It’s not even close, except that he looks like Ben Simmons. Nothing about his game says he’s Ben Simmons. I never expected the man to shoot 40% of the 3. I didn’t expect him to shoot 70% from the free throw line. But man, he just seems hopeless. It just seems to be one thing at a time.”

The Nets complete their West Coast road trip Thursday against the Portland Trail Blazers before returning east.

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