Ben Simmons’ exalted return to Brooklyn lasted just a singular game.
The Nets’ guard was ruled out of Wednesday night’s loss against the Phoenix Suns with a knee contusion — an issue that head coach Jacque Vaughn is preliminarily labeling as day-to-day after an MRI showed no structural damage.
Simmons suffered the injury during the fourth quarter of his first game back from a 38-game absence stemming from a back issue on Monday against the Utah Jazz. He landed awkwardly after going up to block a shot where he was then seen flexing his knee as he walked back up the court.
“He had some swelling in that knee,” Vaughn said. “You saw the play in the fourth. Good block, went up and blocked the shot, but he’s got some swelling in the knee.”
The 27-year-old guard said that he was fine following the game in which he recorded 10 points, 11 assists, and eight rebounds in a blowout 147-114 win. It finally suggested that he was ready to hit the ground running in his Nets career.
Injuries have run rampant throughout Simmons’ career, which has carried over to Brooklyn since being a part of the James Harden deal that brought him over from the Philadelphia 76ers just before the start of the 202-23 season.
Over the last five seasons, Simmons has played in just 43.7% of games, which included a back injury and a holdout that sidelined him for the entire 2021-22 season with the Sixers.
He played in just 42 games last season after undergoing back surgery in May of 2022 and experiencing knee issues, as well. Those same problems have cropped back up this season as he’s played just seven of a possible 47 games — an obvious issue for a team that has invested a lot in his services.
“If I ask our guys to keep hoping and be resilient, then I have to be the same way,” Vaughn said after disclosing Simmons’ injury. “So that’s where we are. I thoroughly do believe that Ben will play consistent minutes for us. I have to keep that belief.”
There’s no denying that the Nets are a better team when he’s on the floor. Their pace, offensive mettle, and defensive structure all improve when he’s available and healthy, as evident by Monday night’s beatdown of the Jazz.
But, for now, the wait will only continue at least a few more days.
“You saw the impact that he has on our team when he plays,” Vaughn said. “It was evident and clear as day. So I do look forward to him getting through this swelling and getting back out on the floor for us.”