It doesn't sound like we'll see Ben Simmons for the remainder of the season, as the Brooklyn Nets announced Friday evening that the guard has been diagnosed with a nerve impingement in his back, which will keep him sidelined. Simmons, who hasn't played since Feb. 15 due to knee and back soreness, has been in and out of the Nets lineup all season due to various ailments, but this most recent one has been the most lengthy, going on 15 consecutive games missed.
Per the Nets announcement:
"Ben Simmons has been diagnosed with a nerve impingement in his back after a reevaluation earlier today. He will remain out of action while we determine the best long-term course of treatment."
Prior to Saturday's matchup with the Miami Heat, Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said that Simmons is "probably not going to join us for the rest of the year, in all honesty."
Jacque Vaughn's update on Ben Simmons:— Erik Slater (@erikslater_) March 25, 2023
“Ben was going through the process of strengthening, being on the court, being reevaluated. During one of those reevaluations, the impingement presented itself… He’s probably not going to join us for the rest of the year, in all honesty” pic.twitter.com/7K55gb1XUH
The back diagnosis comes on the heels of Simmons having fluid drained from his knee while also receiving a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injection prior to the All-Star break. However, that treatment didn't solve the knee problem. The back soreness came while Simmons was rehabbing from the knee injury, which resulted in the All-Defensive guard having an MRI on March 6, which revealed inflammation. Now, it appears the official diagnosis is a nerve impingement.
This is just the latest setback in what's been a frustrating year for Simmons, who prior to being injured was demoted to a bench role where he was playing just 17 minutes a night. Since being traded to the Brooklyn Nets during the 2021-22 season, Simmons' fresh start has been anything but that. He's seen former Nets head coach Steve Nash get fired, and the recent trades of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving sent the Brooklyn franchise into a mini rebuild. All of this while Simmons is averaging career-lows across the board (6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 6.1 assists), while appearing in just 42 games.
While the Nets would prefer to have Simmons healthy, they've managed on fine without him during this recent stretch. While Durant and Irving are no longer on the team, Brooklyn still sits in prime position to at least make the play-in round. With a 39-34 record, the Nets currently sit seventh in the Eastern Conference, just a half-game back of the No. 6 Miami Heat. A current five-game losing streak has resulted in Brooklyn falling down the standings, but with nine games left on the schedule, they're still in the running to avoid the play-in altogether and secure a top-6 spot in the East.