The biggest mystery in Nets World may finally be solved. Nets head coach Steve Nash confirmed a report that finally lifted the veil of what has been keeping Ben Simmons off the court since he was traded to Brooklyn on Feb. 10.
Simmons has been dealing a herniated disc in his back, Nash confirmed on Monday night before the Nets tipped off against the Utah Jazz. The ailment has thrown a massive wrench into Brooklyn’s plans for this season.
The news was first reported by The Athletic earlier in the day. Even though it seems a diagnosis is now public, it remains unclear if Simmons will be able to play this season.
Nets head coach Steve Nash told reporters on Sunday that he fully expected to have Simmons this year and he reiterated that again on Monday before Brooklyn hosted Utah. It is still far from certain that he does take the court this year considering where he is in his ramp-up process.
“He’s had this throughout his career,” Nash said. “I guess there was a flair up. I’m not sure when they recognized when it was beyond a regular back flair-up and a herniated disc or whatnot, but that was the reason for the epidural.”
Nash added: “He’s had moments during his rehab where he’s on the court doing some things and it looks like he’s about to turn a corner and then there’s a little setback. So I still feel optimistic that he can play for us.”
The Nets second-year coach said that surgery hadn’t been discussed and that he believed the epidural had worked to help relieve some of the pain.
Brooklyn generally requires players to go through three high-intensity workouts before they are cleared to play. Simmons has yet to complete any and the Nets are down to their final 10 games of the regular season after Monday.
Back issues are not a new thing for Simmons, who has dealt with them since February of 2020 when he suffered a nerve impingement.
While the 25-year-old has not been able to play, he has remained a presence around the team and has made several of the team’s road trips since he arrived. The Nets have limited some of his travel more recently to try and keep from irritating his back too much.
“He’s doing good,” Kevin Durant said on Monday after shootaround (H/T ESPN). “He looks good as far as just walking around and being around the team. Haven’t seen him do anything on the basketball court as much, but a couple walk-through things. But I think his spirits are in the right place and he’s excited to be a part of the group and looking forward to having him out on the floor.
“I definitely don’t want him to rush back for us and his back is not right, so take all the time he needs to get his body right and once he’s out there we’re ready to rock and roll.”
Simmons was expected to be a key part of a title run for the Nets after they traded disgruntled superstar James Harden as part of the deal in February.