NBA insider Ric Bucher appeared to shade Shams Charania — an NBA insider with The Athletic and Stadium — while defending his report that Ben Simmons left a Nets group chat this past season during the first round of the NBA playoffs.
“I’ve been assured that this is correct in spite of another report that says it never happened,” Bucher said Wednesday on his “On The Ball” podcast, seemingly referring to Charania, who denied the former’s report a day prior on “The Pat McAfee Show.”
“And that’s as far as I’ll go with that, too,” Bucher said. “I’m not going to punch down. Ben Simmons was in a group chat with some of the other team’s players. And on it, they asked Ben if he was playing in game four. And not only did he not answer, he dropped out of the chat.
“Now, as I said, there’s another reporter out there who suggested the event never happened. I’m well aware that that reporter has, let’s say he has vested interests in painting things a certain way. And again, I will leave it at that his comments prompted me to go back and double-check with my source. And that source insists that it did indeed happen, and explain why someone might report it another way. So I’m sticking with it.”
Last week, Bucher went on the “The Herd” and reported that a source told him Simmons dropped out of a Nets group chat last season when asked if he was going to play in their must-win Game 4 against the Celtics. Brooklyn went on to be swept by Boston in the first round.
“This never happened… it’s an amazing story but it didn’t happen,” Charania told McAfee on Tuesday.
Later that day, Simmons returned to Twitter following a two-month hiatus, and tweeted, “slow news day,” with a crying-laughing emoji.
Simmons — a former first-overall pick and three-time All-Star — is currently training in New York and continuing his recovery from back surgery that he underwent in May.
The Australian star sat out the entire 2021-22 NBA season due to mental health issues and a lingering back injury, including the first half of the season with the Sixers, who traded him to the Nets in February for James Harden.