Ben Simmons progressing; Nets Jacque Vaughn confident he’ll return this season

Brooklyn Nets guard Ben Simmons during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in New York.
AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson

BROOKLYN — The question of whether Ben Simmons will play is an ongoing one that has become all too familiar for Nets fans. On Thursday, he missed his 12th consecutive game but head coach Jacque Vaughn said that there had been “progress” for Simmons. 

Vaughn said that Simmons had been doing on-court work and that there was still no timetable for his return. The Nets’ coach also wouldn’t specify if he was doing any 5-on-5 work.

“No setbacks. He’s progressing,” Vaughn said. “So great to see him. He’s doing some work on court right now, so as more updates to come, I’ll definitely give them to you guys, but good to see him back on the court getting some work in.”

Simmons has continued to deal with back and knee issues, which have been a problem for most of the season. Simmons’ back forced him to miss the rest of the season after he was traded to Brooklyn and he underwent back surgery in the offseason. 

The point guard’s knees have become an issue this year as a result of the back issues, Simmons believed earlier in the year. 

One thing Vaughn seemed adamant about was that Simmons would play again this season, even with time quickly winding down to the end of the regular season. Vaughn reiterated a point that he has made several times before this year, which was that the Nets had “zero” discussions of him not playing the rest of the year.

“Definitely operating under the belief,” Vaughn responded when asked if he believed Simmons would be back. “We’re expecting him to be back. Waiting for him to be back. Watching the last Sacramento game, it was great to see his physicality versus (Domantas) Sabonis last time so looking forward to seeing that again for sure.”

The Nets were down to just 12 games left in the regular season after Thursday’s game against the Kings. It’s unclear if there would or could be a line in the sand when conversations around shutting Simmons down for the season would start.

Brooklyn feverishly tried to get Simmons back onto the floor all of last season even with the Nets in the postseason. It’s unknown if the Nets would be comfortable putting Simmons back onto the floor in the middle of a playoff series. 

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