Simmons has missed the last three games because of a bruised left hip. But after continued discomfort in the area, the Nets said Tuesday that Simmons had an MRI exam that revealed a nerve impingement in the lower left side of his back.
“Ben was day to day. He was improving,” coach Jacque Vaughn said before the Nets’ game against the Orlando Magic. “It got to a point where obviously he wasn’t playing, so we wanted to be extremely thorough, so (he) got an MRI … which showed a left-side impingement.”
Back problems have ended the last two seasons early for Simmons, who will continue to receive treatment on both the back and hip. Vaughn said Simmons’ current back injury isn’t the same as the one that cost him the final 24 games of last season, but would not rule out that they were related.
“Totally different side than last year,” Vaughn said. “I’m not in a position to speculate if there’s any correlation.”
Vaughn confirmed Simmons sustained the injury in Brooklyn’s 129-125 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Nov. 6.
“We know that there was an acute play that happened in the game that got us in this position,” Vaughn said.
The Nets said a status update will be provided in a week.
Simmons developed back problems as he tried to rebuild his conditioning after the Nets acquired him from Philadelphia in 2022 at the trade deadline in the deal that sent James Harden to the 76ers. The No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft eventually underwent a microdiscectomy, a procedure to remove a small fragment of a herniated disk, that May.
Last season, while playing his way back into shape following that surgery, Simmons also developed knee and calf pain that forced him to sit out 20 games, before a nerve impingement in his back ultimately ended his season in March.
Simmons worked hard in the offseason on his conditioning and regained his starting job as the point guard, after he had fallen out of Vaughn’s rotation last season. He has averaged 6.5 points, 10.8 rebounds and 6.7 assists in six games, also sitting out one to rest his back.
“This is just a bump that is in his road right now that happened,” Vaughn said. “Everybody’s body is different. This is kind of what he’s dealing with, and we’ll support him while he’s dealing with it. Hopefully in a week from now he’s feeling better and we’ll see him playing at the level he was playing at.”
Guard Cam Thomas, who has also missed Brooklyn’s past two games with a sprained ankle, still has his left foot in a walking boot. The team's leading scorer did not offer a timetable for his return but said he was rehabbing the injury in hopes of a quick return.
“I’m supposed to be re-evaluated very soon,” Thomas said. “Feeling better; getting better; I’m looking forward to trying to get back and help the team.”
AP freelance writer Pat Pickens contributed to this report.
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