Ben Simmons appeared to be in a good place when he spoke to reporters on Tuesday at the Nets practice facility in downtown Brooklyn.
Simmons had missed the Nets’ past three games with a left lateral calf strain and will not be available for Wednesday’s game against the Charlotte Hornets, but the point guard is aiming to be back on the court by Friday when the Atlanta Hawks come to town.
“Another step in the progression,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said about Simmons. “Beyond the court, running a little bit, which was great to see. So trending towards this weekend.”
Simmons pulled himself from the game during the Nov. 28 win over the Orlando Magic and he said that he had actually felt the issue acting up in the game prior.
“I think it’s just a number of not playing for a while, coming back, the amount of minutes I was playing,” Simmons said about why the issue flared up. “Also playing back-to-backs, it was a load coming back from a back injury and then also the knee. I’m glad I had this time to build some muscle around it and work on it.”
Simmons had already missed five games with a left knee issue earlier in the season, first missing four straight from Oct. 31 to Nov. 5 and then sitting out Brooklyn’s Nov. 13 game against the Los Angeles Lakers. The 26-year-old had been coming off of offseason back surgery to repair an issue that plagued his return to the court last year following the trade from Philadelphia to Brooklyn.
He did acknowledge that the issues with his knee and calf could be related to the back surgery.
“I think it’s all related. When you start talking about back injuries you start using different muscles and you want to load and lean and wherever it is. I think they all relate in some aspect,” Simmons explained.
The continuing issues are forcing Simmons and the Nets to reevaluate how much they use Simmons once he gets back onto the floor. The Nets played a very heavy schedule from Nov. 15 through Nov. 28, which included two sets of back-to-backs that Simmons played in.
Simmons wasn’t sure exactly how his playing time would be managed, whether that was minutes or limiting him when the Nets play on back-to-back nights. He seemed to be very understanding of why he needs to manage how much he plays.
“You need to be smart because I know being in the league for what, seven, six years, It’s about being healthy every year,” Simmons said. “You know, you want all your guys to be healthy and ready to go. So you know that’s the main objective.”