Beleaguered Nets star Ben Simmons has been limited to individual work on the court in practice as he battles a combination of left knee and back pain that has sidelined him since the Game break. of NBA All-Stars.
Simmons missed his 15th straight game with what the team deemed left knee/back soreness, watching from the bench during Brooklyn’s matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday.
Vaughn said that for the first time since Simmons received a platelet-rich plasma injection and fluid drained from his knee during the All-Star Break, Simmons has only practiced in a one-on-one setting.
“It’s not with the teammates, so I’ll say that part,” the head coach said before kickoff against the Cavaliers on Thursday. “He hasn’t written with our group, first group, second group or anything of that nature.”
Considering the practice time between the NBA trade deadline of February 9, when Vaughn finalized a starting lineup of Spencer Dinwiddie, Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Dorian Finney-Smith and Nic Claxton, and the start of the offseason for the All-Star Game on February 17 was minimal. Simmons’ time on the court with the new Nets has been sparse.
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Which makes it hard to imagine a world where he has a true impact on the Nets’ season, given that there are now only nine possible games the forward can play in with no timetable yet given for his return from injury.
“That’s why the good thing is I don’t even think that far ahead, my man. I don’t even complicate my life like that,” Vaughn said. “I’m worried about today’s game and if those questions come up I’ll be more than willing to see how he fits in with the group and answer them then, but I don’t even want to look that far away.
“Ben is in the same position he was in the last time I spoke to you (Tuesday). Nothing more to comment. I don’t think he can give you anything else. There’s nothing to add, really.”
Simmons is the highest-paid player on the Nets’ roster, and he’s also the most decorated in terms of individual accolades.
He was named 2018 Rookie of the Year, led the NBA in steals in 2020, was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team twice, and is a three-time All-Star. He signed a rookie-max-scale extension with the Philadelphia 76ers before coming to Brooklyn as part of the James Harden trade and is owed a total of $78 million over the next two seasons.
Back problems have sidelined him most of the time since he landed in Brooklyn. Simmons suffered a herniated disc last season, received an epidural in an attempt to overcome the injury, opted for offseason surgery and missed the entire 2021-22 season in Brooklyn, and has been on irregular availability this season since. , appearing in just 42 of a possible 73 matches this season.
Simmons is averaging 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game. He averaged 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 1.6 steals over four years in Philadelphia before citing mental health issues as the reason he held out the entire first half of the 2021-22 season with the Sixers before coming to Brooklyn.