MIAMI (AP) — The Brooklyn Nets are not expecting guard Ben Simmons to play again this season, though no final decision will be made until the three-time All-Star meets with a back specialist, coach Jacque Vaughn said Saturday.
Simmons is currently sidelined with what the Nets say is a nerve impingement — the condition where tissue or bone compresses nerve fibers — in his back.
Saturday’s game at Miami marked the 16th in a row that Simmons has missed, and his 32nd absence in 74 Nets games this season.
“For me as a coach, there’s some things that I can control, some things that I can’t control,” Vaughn said. “What I can’t control is the impingement. What I can control is getting this group ready to play. And then in all honesty, the realism that he’s probably not going to join us for the rest of the year … certainty will come once he continues to be looked at by specialists.”
The Nets announced Friday that Simmons will continue being sidelined “while we determine the best long-term course of treatment.” What that means still isn’t fully clear, and the Nets won’t know until Simmons is further examined.
“We’re going to lean into the specialist and the consultation and I think those answers will come from the specialists,” Vaughn said.
Simmons is a three-time All-Star who didn’t play at all last season, first citing mental health issues and then a back injury. He started last season with Philadelphia, then was sent to Brooklyn in the trade that brought James Harden to the 76ers.
He has missed games this season for a variety of reasons, including left knee soreness, a left calf strain and the back problem.
Simmons’ numbers this season are, by far, the worst of his career. He’s averaging only 6.9 points — he’s never been below 14.3 points per game in any of the other four seasons in which he played — and is shooting 44% from the foul line.
He last played Feb. 15, around the time he told reporters that he was uncertain about his role with the team and prompting Vaughn to say in response that the team also wasn’t sure how it would be able to use Simmons with new lineups following the trades of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.
Simmons is making $35.4 million this season, and is due $78.2 million more over the next two seasons.