BROOKLYN — Ben Simmons season is officially over, Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn revealed after practice on Tuesday.
The revelation came as little surprise to anyone and ended what had been an injury-marred year for Simmons. It was revealed last week that while being re-evaluated, Simmons had been diagnosed with a nerve impingement in his back that had been keeping him sidelined.
“Ben will not be joining us the rest of the year and through the playoffs,” Vaughn said. “After consulting with our doctors, multiple specialists, he’s just gonna begin a rehab program. Our doctors and the specialists feel and think that he’ll have a full recovery, so that starts now.”
As of right now, the recommendation from the doctors does not include any surgery for Simmons, Vaughn said. Simmons had not played since Feb. 15 against the Miami Heat, which was the Nets’ last game before the NBA All-Star break and had missed the last 17 games with knee and back issues.
Simmons had been doing some individual workouts more recently until the doctors made the discovery of the nerve impingement.
“During that time, he was strengthening, trying to get back on the court, doing some things on the court,” Vaughn explained. “And that was just part of his kinda reassessment. That’s when we got the impingement. So that started this next layer of going to see specialists. So that was kind of the sequence of the strengthening, which took part to get him to reassessing, which the reassessing got him to specialists. That’s how we got to today.”
Now the bigger question becomes where the Nets go from here with Simmons. In 42 games this season, he averaged 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists on 56.6 percent shooting from the floor.
But as Brooklyn’s highest-paid player and the centerpiece in the return from the Philadelphia 76ers in the James Harden trade, the Nets have needed more out of Simmons. Publically, the Nets are maintaining their support of Simmons and the importance he has to the organization.
“That’s our goal. And overall you just think about, he’s 6-10, athletic, what he can do and bring to our team, how he can help our group on both ends of the floor,” Vaughn said. “We want to be involved in that. We want to see that. I want to coach Ben and I want to be able to push Ben to get back to all-defensive team and impact our team on both ends of the floor. So that’s definitely the goal going forward.”
Simmons won’t have the chance to do that this season, but at least the Nets will have clarity on the situation going into the final games of the season. The will he or won’t he play dramatics with Simmons last year rolled all the way into the final game of their first-round playoff series loss to the Boston Celtics without the point guard ever suiting up for the Nets.
Brooklyn is expected to make the postseason again this year, though they are teetering on falling into a play-in round spot.