While the Nets were in Orlando a stone’s throw away from the House of Mouse, Ben Simmons remained back in New York on Tuesday. The Nets star did not make the trip with the team as they faced the Magic at Amway arena, Steve Nash told reporters.
Simmons has yet to make his Nets debut since he was traded to Brooklyn over a month ago from Philadelphia and time is running out for him to step on the court before the end of the season. Following Tuesday’s matchup with the Magic, Brooklyn is down to just 13 games this year.
While Simmons wasn’t on the short trip to Florida, Nash said his confidence remained “extremely high” that the 25-year-old would make his debut with the team before the end of the season.
Steve Nash said both Seth Curry and Cam Thomas are game-time decisions tonight in Orlando. Ben Simmons did not make the trip, given the back-to-back tomorrow against Dallas.
— Alex Schiffer (@Alex__Schiffer) March 15, 2022
The saga to get Simmons back on the court has taken plenty of twists and turns just since he arrived in Brooklyn. Simmons had hoped to return to the court in time for the Nets meeting with the Philadelphia 76ers on March 10, but he was only able to sit on the bench for that game.
Simmons reconditioning has been hindered by ongoing back issues that began to flare up during his ramp up. He has had a history of back issues dating back to the COVID shortened 2019-20 season.
“The biggest thing we’ve tried to do is to have him be involved in everything,” Nash said, according to ESPN. “The traveling is the one caveat where sometimes you’re weighing the cost-benefit of him on airplanes and buses and different beds. When he’s with us we want him in every meeting, in every walkthrough, in every film session, whatever it may be so he’s around the group. We’d love for him to travel, be with the team all the time, but we have to weigh that scenario as well.”
While Nash remained optimistic, others weren’t so sure. A pair of board-certified orthopedic surgeons that spoke with the New York Post doubted he’d be able to play before the regular season is up.
“I don’t think that’s happening. I think the odds are against it. Think about it this way: The longer he’s been out, the longer he’s likely to stay out. Until you fundamentally change the underlying problem,” Dr. Rahul Shah told the Post. “I don’t think he’s coming back (this season). I don’t think that you have anything to say that he will convincingly. He’s got to do the running in the sprinting before he can do one-on-one or five-on-five.”
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The Nets could certainly use Simmons back sooner than later as they get closer to the postseason. As of now, they’d only have Kevin Durant available for the play-in tournament, which they’d have to face the Toronto Raptors.
The initial hope was to get Simmons acclimated and on the court to help the Nets superstar for the stretch run, and for them to team up during the postseason. The Nets won’t have Kyrie Irving available for home games while the current vaccine mandate keeps him courtside rather than on the court.