How Nets can use Ben Simmons with 2022-23 roster

No matter what happens with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons is all but assured of being a foundational piece of the Nets.

While the ongoing drama surrounding Durant’s trade request — and Irving’s unsure status — has sucked all the air out of the room and dominated almost every headline this offseason, the under-the-radar X-factor for the Nets is getting Simmons back from May back surgery and in the right headspace.

Whether it’s for a title chase or the beginning of a rebuild.

Simmons was the centerpiece of the Nets’ return for trading away former MVP James Harden in February — they also got Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first-round picks from the 76ers — and he hasn’t played a single second for them. Simmons first was unavailable in Philadelphia last season due to mental health issues and then was sidelined in Brooklyn due to a herniated disk.