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April 2, 2023 | 7:03 am EDT Update
Ben Simmons will be healthy to start the next season for sure, his agent says
Simmons averaged just 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists — all career lows — while missing at least 40 games (bringing his total to 70 of 112 regular-season games missed with the Nets), much to the frustration of fans. He is owed $78.2 million over the next two seasons. The 26-year-old’s agent, Bernie Lee, told The Post that Simmons “will be healthy to start the next season, for sure.”
“Without getting into specifics, what I’ve learned in all these conversations is that what Ben experienced here is considered to be part of the recovery from his previous procedure,” Lee told The Post. “The NBA schedule is obviously rigorous and not forgiving to the need for patience at times, and Ben made every effort to be available to help his team in every way as much as he could. “This step at this point in time is being taken in partnership with the team to support Ben, to allow him to really get himself physically prepared to begin the start of next season — in an effort to lead the Nets in the way he’s shown over the course of his young career he’s capable of doing.”
Simmons’ fitful recovery process has caused quiet rumblings of frustration within the organization and a far louder outcry from the fans. “Noise is simply that: noise. It is neither motivating nor defeating. It simply exists,” Lee said. “Ben will continue to remain singularly focused on keeping the main thing the main thing.”
Michael Porter: 'People are so hard on Ben Simmons'
Porter had a microdiscectomy of his L3-L4 discs while in college, and underwent a second surgery the summer he was drafted, causing him to miss the entire 2018-19 campaign. He averaged just 9.3 points the following season, but erupted for 19.0 points per game the next. “People are so hard on Ben Simmons. But I know what he’s going through as far as he’s able to play right now, but he’s not back to Ben Simmons, and it’ll take awhile for him to have all the explosiveness,” Porter said. “I watched a little highlight video from a couple years ago — he’s just flying down the lane. He’ll get that back, but it just takes time. Anything with the back, it just inhibits a little bit of explosiveness.”
Multiple specialists who spoke with The Post said the 18-month timeline for his nerves to heal sounded accurate. “Remember, nerves regenerate — if they can — about a millimeter a day, depending on the damage that’s there,” said Dr. Rahul Shah, a Board-Certified Orthopedic Spine & Neck Surgeon and partner with Premier Orthopedic Associates in New Jersey. “So assuming he’s roughly 7 feet tall, or three and a half feet from his hips down to his foot, that’s what you’re looking at: about 18 months to two years for the nerve to fully regenerate. Or to whatever extent they can.”
Brown has virtually no incentive to sign this summer without the supermax, as even with the increase to 140 percent, he would be eligible for a similarly structured extension from Boston regardless of award status when he reaches unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2024. All of which means the Celtics need to hope Brown lands one of 15 All-NBA berths this summer to entice an extension. Boston would still be well positioned to retain him over rivals, but an early extension would eliminate a storyline that would linger throughout the 2023-24 season.
There’s more on Thad Young not playing elsewhere in here and with only $1 million guaranteed on his 2023-24 contract, I expect his Raptors career ends when this season does. I would foresee that contract being aggregated in a summer trade.