The questions surrounding Ben Simmons’ return to the court this season continued after Nets head coach Steve Nash said that Simmons had received an epidural to help relieve his back pain.
Simmons has yet to play in a Nets uniform since being acquired on Feb. 10 from Philadelphia. The Nets guard has been experiencing back issues during the course of his reconditioning that has slowed down his return, and even raised the prospects of him not playing until the postseason starts.
“Ben had an epidural while we were in Orlando,” Nash said ahead of Wednesday’s heartbreaking loss to the Dallas Mavericks. “The idea being to try to accelerate his recovery and take some of the irritation down. So hopefully that will help him relieve some of the symptoms and be able to recover quicker. And accelerate that process.”
The timeline for Simmons’ return still remains a mystery, with the Nets keeping the information close to the vest. Nash said he didn’t have an update on the timeline when he was asked by reporters on Wednesday.
The medical staff will see how Simmons responds to the epidural and then make a plan for him, according to Nash.
Privately the Nets have remained optimistic that they’ll be able to get the 25-year-old into some games before the end of the regular season. ESPN reported on Wednesday that the issue with Simmons’ back stemmed from an irritation of the L-4 disc of the lower spine, but that there was hope he could play a few regular-season games before the postseason.
The plan, according to the report, was for Simmons to have made his debut on Friday against the Portland Trail Blazers, but that was eventually ruled out. Nash tried to alleviate some concern over the possibility of a procedure when the topic was broached, saying that hasn’t even been considered.
“That would be a way down the line scenario,” he said. “We expect him back at some point and I’m not the doc so I want to be very careful with what I say about the epidural, but I don’t know about a fact-finding. I think they understand. I don’t think they’re in the dark as far as what’s hurting. I think it’s just a matter of finding the things he’ll respond best to.”
The delay has thrown a wrench in the Nets’ plans for this season. Brooklyn expected it would take some time for Simmons to get back into game shape after not playing since June 20 in the playoffs when he was still with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Now it’s taken even longer and could delay his return until the postseason, which would b a tricky spot to try to acclimate a player on the fly. The Nets have tried to keep Simmons as engaged with the team as possible during this period.
And Nets superstar Kevin Durant didn’t have any concerns about how connected summons would stay with the team.
“He’s a grown-up,” Durant said. “He’s a grown man, he’s an All-Star. He’s a veteran in this league now. He knows how to keep himself engaged. Like I said before, I’m never going to hold nobody’s hand in this league. And he knows that. He don’t want nobody to make sure he’s being a professional. So I can’t wait to get him back, but we don’t want to rush him and hopefully he gets back soon and be able to play the game that he loves every day. I know he misses it.”