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Sources: Nets’ Simmons needs back surgery

Swingman should be back in time for training camp

May 5, 2022 John Torenli, Sports Editor
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Whether its about mental health or back issues, Ben Simmons needs to get better if the Brooklyn Nets want to do the same next season.

According to sources cited by ESPN, the mercurial swingman was scheduled to undergo back surgery Thursday for a herniated disc that prevented him from playing a single second for Brooklyn following his arrival as part of the trade-deadline deal that sent James Harden to Philadelphia in February.

Simmons, 25, hasn’t played since last May, when he revealed that mental health concerns were the primary reason he didn’t want to play with the 76ers.

The Nets were hoping the three-time All-Star and NBA Rookie of the Year in 2018 would respond to a change of scenery.

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Brooklyn head coach Steven Nash repeatedly gave updates on when Simmons might be available.

But as the Nets dropped to the seventh seed and played their way into the postseason, Simmons remained out, at first due to the same mental health issues that plagued him in Philly and then a back problem that never really cleared up.

“I think Ben has addressed that there is a mental component with what he’s going through, but how much and where he’s at with that is not for me to speak about,” Nash said after the Nets were swept by Boston in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, pending his free-agent status, back in the mix for another run at the franchise’s first-ever title, adding a healthy and productive Simmons would be a boon to a team that has fallen well short of expectations the past two seasons.

Kevin Durant (left) hopes to see Ben Simmons in uniform next season after the Nets’ potential third superstar returns from surgery. AP Photo by Corey Sipkin

The first step toward that return will be Thursday’s procedure, a microdiscectomy designed to alleviate pain in the lower back, the Nets revealed Wednesday.

“We’re really pushing to support Ben in any way we can to help him improve physically and get back on the court, and then the mental side of that is part and parcel,” Nash noted.

“They’re not separate, they’re not something that we don’t want to deal with. We want to help if he needs help in any aspect of his life and his game.”

Simmons is expected to take three to four months to recover from the surgery, meaning he’ll be back on the hardwood before the Nets open training camp for the 2022-23 season this coming September.

Nets head coach Steve Nash (left) hopes to have Kyrie Irving (right), Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons ready to go next year at Barclays Center. AP Photo by Phelan M. Ebenhack

Harden’s departure in February meant no more Big Three for Brooklyn.

But if Simmons returns to form, there will be a new superstar trio at Barclays Center.

One the Nets hope will deliver our borough’s first major pro sports title since 1955.

“I’m not putting any pressure on Ben to come out there and hoop,” Durant said ahead of the Boston series.

“I’m not expecting him to do anything but get his body right and get healthy as fast as he can.”

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