“Frustrating from an organizational standpoint. but even more so from Ben’s,: said Marks. “I had a conversation with Ben. We all did. We saw how he wanted to get out there. To be honest, I’ve got to admire that. He tries to do 3-on-3, 5-on-5 and then you turn around and get an MRI, You see the disc herniation has gotten worse. and you think, well this guy is pushing through something that he shouldn’t be pushing through. Nobody wants to have surgery. It’s the last resort but it’s bygone now and we’ve got to move forward on this, we’ve got to support him and so forth.”
Asked for lessons learned from the Simmons off-again, on-again saga. Marks used the opportunity to critique the critics. “It’s a little bit of a testament that 1) he tried to get back out there and tried to help his teammates and secondly, we have to be careful not judge people. And if you’re outside that medical profession, when you’re chiming in from afar. You just have to be a bit careful of what you’re saying because you really don’t know,” said Marks.
Ben Simmons and his camp will sit down with the Nets and hammer out a plan for the ensuing months, one intended to put him on the best path to both physical and mental health and a successful return to the court. “We will work together with the Nets on a summer plan,” a source close to Simmons told The Post. “Everyone is confident.”
The Nets want the rehabbing Simmons to be in Brooklyn as much as possible, putting Philadelphia as far in the review mirror as he can. The 25-year-old finally is offloading his South Jersey mansion, which can only help toward that end, one small step. Simmons — who forced a trade from the 76ers to the Nets on Feb. 10, but didn’t play at all this past season — sold his suburban mansion in Moorestown, N.J., for $4.55 million, and has his condo in the Ritz Carlton Residences in downtown Philadelphia on the market as well. Both listings were reported by The Dirt.
Pat McAfee: “I’m told Ben Simmons is feeling a lot better & the goal is for him to be playing basketball in the 2022/2023 season" ~ @ShamsCharania #PMSLive
JD Shaw: Nets star Ben Simmons is all smiles after undergoing successful back surgery: pic.twitter.com/qtBMPLKjiv
A source close to Simmons told me he’s going through it right now mentally, but Ben will be back next season. The source I spoke to was very confident in that. Another source I spoke to said the Nets have been supportive at every turn, and it’s different comparatively than when Ben was in Philadelphia.
NBA insider Brian Windhorst, speaking on ESPN’s “Get Up” on Monday, said that Simmons is not a “sympathetic figure” due to the choices he’s made this season, and laid out the Nets’ fatigue with his decision to sit out Game 4 with what he has attributed to back pain popping back up. “Your immediate reaction is he just doesn’t want to play in a series that’s 3-0. I’ll be honest with you — that was my first reaction,” Windhorst said. “When I talked to people involved, they were exasperated. They said he woke up, his back hurt and he wasn’t able to play. There wasn’t much more to say. They’re pretty much waving the white flag on this one. It’s extraordinarily disappointing.”
Ben Simmons' absence from this postseason has garnered the most glaring spotlight of all. Before the Celtics series began on Easter Sunday, league sources told B/R the 25-year-old three-time All-Star and Nets personnel were confident he was on track to play as early as Game 3. Then his purported timeline became Game 4. That is until Sunday, when Simmons informed Brooklyn staffers he was experiencing back soreness, one day before Monday's fateful Game 4 defeat.
Instead, the Nets ruled Simmons out of Game 4 altogether, sources said, as a sense of fatigue from the situation and general disappointment seemed to permeate the franchise. After visiting the floor for pregame warm-ups prior to Game 3, Simmons did not partake in any pregame work Monday and was not present on the bench alongside his teammates for Game 4, which one source told B/R was because of his lingering back discomfort. Simmons certainly wouldn't have debuted on the road in front of a hostile Boston crowd for Game 5. Could he have appeared in Game 6? We'll never know.
Sunday’s events triggered frustration and disheartenment throughout the organization, multiple sources said. The fallout of Simmons being ruled out Sunday led to a meeting among franchise officials, Simmons and his agent, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul, on Monday in Brooklyn. According to sources, Simmons told those in the room that a mental block exists for him, dating in part to last summer’s postseason, which is creating stress that could serve as a trigger point for his back issues. He added that he does want to play basketball and play for the Nets as he works on solutions in regard to his well-being.
Simmons had been described as pain-free for the majority of the past month but began to cite soreness in his back on Friday, and a scheduled scrimmage was pushed back, multiple sources said. Simmons conducted two full-court scrimmages last week on Monday and Wednesday, in which there was low intensity displayed, those sources said. Throughout Simmons’ rehab, both Durant and Irving, for their part, publicly downplayed their expectations for a Simmons return and said the goal is to get him healthy.
Simmons had another workout on Saturday, after which Nash said Simmons had no issues. On Sunday, Simmons informed the team his back was sore. For Nets players, the confusion was not centered around Simmons’ ailment, but with the perceived lack of attempt to play, effort to be in uniform and push his body in these high-stakes playoffs, sources said. Nets players and coaches wanted to see Simmons show resolve and enter this series to start his on-court Brooklyn tenure, even if it was for limited minutes on Monday or none at all while still dressing for the game.
Ian Begley: Ben Simmons isn’t on the Nets bench for Game 4 vs. Boston due to his back ailment, per a team official. Simmons had been sitting on the Nets bench in recent games. Steve Nash said earlier Monday that Simmons would be evaluated by team performance staff.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Simmons reiterated desire to play for Nets and sides talked on how they’ll work together to try and get there. Both groups believe Simmons had two good weeks of physical ramp-up thru Sunday, but ultimately realized there are still mental and physical hurdles that need addressing.
Adrian Wojnarowski: The Nets believe Simmons has been addressing both mental and physical areas in recent months, and recognize there’s more work to do. Nets meet Celtics in Game 4 tonight in Brooklyn, trailing series 3-0.
Nick Friedell: Nash said Simmons will continue to get treatment today. He’s not sure if training staff will clear him to get a workout in. Nash also isn’t sure if Simmons would be able to play in Game 5 if Nets get there.
Reggie Miller: Cmon MAN!!! Out for Game 4 when it was rumored you were going to make your debut. This dude has ZERO competitive ??.. As small a chance as the Nets have to come back in this series, you still have KD and Kyrie, all you need is to win ONE game and take it from there.. #ManUp
Within hours of his planned season debut, Brooklyn Nets guard Ben Simmons reported a return of back soreness on Sunday, sources told ESPN, and has been ruled out for Monday's Game 4 against the Boston Celtics. After approximately 10 days of pain-free ramp up following recovery from a herniated disc, Simmons' admission at the team practice facility was met with surprise and disappointment.
On the brink of a sweep to the Celtics, the Nets had hoped Simmons would be in uniform and active with the hope of coach Steve Nash using him in limited minutes, sources said. While Nash and Nets players had publicly said that they were unsure whether Simmons would finally play in Game 4 on Monday, Simmons and the organization had discussed at length a plan for his debut to come on Monday in Game 4 at the Barclays Center, sources said.
Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN Sources: The Nets and Ben Simmons expected he would be ready to play on Monday, but after getting on the court yesterday Simmons says he awoke with back soreness today. In the end, the team and Simmons agreed he'll remain out for Game 4.
Alex Schiffer: Asked Steve Nash how he sees the playoff rotation if Simmons plays. Said he could see it reaching nine deep. Asked if Blake Griffin played himself into more minutes, Nash said the staff has discussed using Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge tomorrow among other options.
Game 4 on Monday may be Nets’ last of the season. It could also be Ben Simmons’ first. Nets coach Steve Nash was non-committal about Simmons being able to suit up Monday against the Celtics, but the young All-Star went through a third high-intensity contact workout on Saturday and seems on course for Game 4. That game will be do-or-die after the Nets lost Game 3 to the Celtics 109-103 at Barclays Center. “I think it’s possible [for Simmons to play]. But I’m not sure,” Nash said. “It’s not a normal return to play being out nine months and being injured as long as he has been. At the back end of this, it’s been about two months or more.
“It’s not just he got through three workouts and he’s ready to play. There’s a bigger picture, bigger context to how he’s feeling, and how he’d be able to adapt to the environment. There are a few factors that play here to evaluate when he’s ready to play.” Blake Griffin made his first appearance since April 2. He had eight points, one rebound and hit 2-for-3 from deep. “We all just need to take a look in the mirror and watch the tape and be real with ourselves and ask ourselves what we can do to be better, because it’s top to bottom,” Griffin said.
Nick Friedell: Nash said Simmons didn’t do any scrimmaging on Friday. He said he’s on track to get some 4-on-4 work in later today.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Barring a setback, Brooklyn's Ben Simmons plans to play in Game 4 on Monday vs. the Boston Celtics, sources tell ESPN.
Shams Charania: Brooklyn Nets three-time All-Star Ben Simmons plans to make his season debut in Game 4 vs. Boston on Monday as long as rehab remains on course, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Simmons is set to play his first game since June 2021.
Kristian Winfield: Steve Nash on Woj's report that Ben Simmons is targeting Game 4: "That's news to me. I don't think we're targeting any game. ... We haven't penciled in anything or made any conclusions yet. I think he's got a long way to go."
Nick Friedell: Nic Claxton on Ben Simmons: “He’s coming along pretty good. He definite has a real good swagger about himself right now so I think the whole world really like to see him back out there and he would definitely help us out in a lot of ways.”
Alex Schiffer: Nets status report for tomorrow’s Game 2 remains just Joe Harris and Ben Simmons listed as out. Everyone else is a go.
Nick Friedell: Steve Nash says Ben Simmons has been cleared for contact. He got some 4-on-4 work in yesterday. Nash said he came through it well.
The Nets will tip off their first-round playoff series in Boston on Sunday. Is there a chance of Simmons playing versus the Celtics? Game 4 won’t be until April 25 at Barclays Center, a day or two later than every other series’ Game 4. The source close to Simmons said that extra time would be a big help in the All-Star’s race against time to return from a herniated L-4 disk. “The NBA did us a huge favor,” the source told The Post. “There’s like 10 days in there [to recover].”
Ben Simmons still hasn’t been cleared for 1-on-1 workouts, but after being able to shoot, run lightly and even dunk in recent days, a source close to the rehabbing Nets star said that full contact is indeed the next step in his winding return to the court. “There’s nothing new there. The next step is to get him cleared for 1-on-1 stuff, see him bang to see how the back holds up,” a source close to Simmons told The Post.
When reporters walked into practice Saturday at HSS Training Center, Simmons seemed to be in good spirits. He playfully told the media “Make sure you get this,” proceeded to dunk and said, “There you go,” before leaving the court.
Brian Lewis: Ben Simmons still has yet to get cleared for contact work. A source close to Simmons: "There’s nothing new there...The next step is to get him cleared for one-on-one stuff, see him bang to see how the back holds up.” #Nets
Jake Fischer: Sources: There’s growing optimism that Ben Simmons could make his Nets and season debut as early as Game 3 against Boston, at Barclays Center next Saturday.
Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN Sources: After running and shooting pain-free for over a week, the Brooklyn Nets’ Ben Simmons is expected to take the next step on the court in the coming week: Beginning to go against teammates on the practice floor. So far, his workouts have been limited to 1-on-0, but that’s about to change. Hope remains Simmons could make his debut later in the Nets-Celtics series.
Kristian Winfield: Asked if Ben Simmons has been able to do anything more in practice today, Steve Nash said: “He hasn’t been able to do anything yet, so no.” #NetsWorld
However, on Thursday, it was reported by The Athletic’s Shams Charania that Simmons is hoping to play by Game 4 to Game 6, if needed, of the Celtics series. Ben Simmons hasn’t played in a professional basketball game since June 20, 2021. He’s remained out during the entire 2022 season due to a recurring back injury and mental health concerns. On the other hand, Nets teammate Kevin Durant does not think Simmons will be ready to play during the Celtics series. “Nah, I’m not expecting him to play,” Durant said, via SNY. “I’m not putting any pressure on Ben to come out there and hoop. I’m not expecting him to do anything but get his body right and get healthy as fast as he can. In my mind, I’m preparing as if we’re playing with the team we have.”
Shams Charania: Sources: Nets three-time All-Star Ben Simmons is targeting a return within Games 4-6 (April 25-29) of first-round series vs. Celtics.
An unsourced report circulated on Wednesday that Simmons could be ready by game three of the Boston series, but coach Steve Nash said the three-time All-Star had yet to progress into contested drills. “I don’t know where these reports come from, I have no update on the timetable – I don’t think that came from us,” Nash told US media.
After orthopedic experts told The Post that Simmons likely would require an epidural, he got just such an injection. And on April 7 a league source said it was paying dividends, albeit admitting time was growing short. “It looks like he’s doing a little bit better,” the source told The Post. “It’s just a timing thing. The problem is the season is running out. But he’s doing [more]. He’s starting to do a little bit more movement, AlterG, stuff like that. So … we’ve got to be patient with it. I don’t think he’ll need a procedure, but you’ve just got to be patient with it.”
After orthopedic experts told The Post that Ben Simmons likely would require an epidural, he got just such an injection. And on April 7 a league source said it was paying dividends, albeit admitting time was growing short. “It looks like he’s doing a little bit better,” the source told The Post. “It’s just a timing thing. The problem is the season is running out. But he’s doing [more]. He’s starting to do a little bit more movement, AlterG, stuff like that. So … we’ve got to be patient with it. I don’t think he’ll need a procedure, but you’ve just got to be patient with it.”
Brandon 'Scoop B' Robinson: Nets players have been challenging Ben Simmons in practice sources tell @BallySports . One Nets player told Simmons in practice yesterday: “Make something happen in your life.” There has been no change in Simmons’ return timetable other than possibly later in playoffs.
Brandon 'Scoop B' Robinson: One Nets fixture believes that Ben Simmons can play in later rounds and tells @BallySports that Simmons’ swag is at an all-time high right now. “He walks around like he’s Jordan.”
Nick Friedell: Nash on Simmons: “There’s no timetable for his return right now. He’s clearly got some markers to hit.” For what it’s worth, Nash says that Simmons hasn’t started running or doing any conditioning yet.
Brooklyn Nets forward Ben Simmons' pain-free progress is fueling hope that he could return in the first-round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, even if it's just in a 10-15 minute a game role, sources told ESPN on Sunday. The Nets would need to advance out of the Play-in Tournament this week and, given continued progress with his back, the hope would be that Simmons could possibly be cleared to play later in a first-round playoff series.
Shams Charania: Sources: There’a optimism Nets star Ben Simmons could make debut during first round of the NBA playoffs as long as his progression continues in strengthening his legs and back. Simmons has been ramping up his workload and is expected to continue doing so.
After having been ruled out for the play-in tournament earlier this week, time is running out for Ben Simmons to return to action for the Nets, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post (Sports+ link). Simmons is suffering from a herniated L-4 disc in his lower spine and received an epidural last month to treat the injury. He’s starting to feel better, and there’s hope he’ll avoid surgery, but it appears increasing unlikely he’ll be able to return for the playoffs. “It looks like he’s doing a little bit better,” a league source told Lewis. “You know, it’s just a timing thing. The problem is the season is running out. But he’s doing [more]. He’s starting to do a little bit more movement, AlterG (an anti-gravity treadmill), stuff like that. So … we’ve got to be patient with it. I don’t think he’ll need a procedure, though. But you’ve just got to be patient with it.”
Although, speaking on ESPN’s ‘NBA Today’, league insider Ramona Shelburne said should Simmons be fit for the playoffs, she believes the Nets will have no hesitation in having him play.
Alex Schiffer: Steve Nash says Ben Simmons is doing some light shooting on the court. "But nothing dynamic." Adds Simmons isn't moving around a lot, but he's here in Atlanta.
Brooklyn Nets guard Ben Simmons has resumed light training and the hope is he will return in time for the NBA Playoffs, as reported by The Athletic’s Shams Charania
When asked what the rehabbing Ben Simmons looks like in Nets practice, Drummond said: “Good, good. He’s moving around a little bit more. He looks good, he looks happy.” But what exactly is Simmons doing in practice? “In terms of what he’s doing, none of us know,” Drummond continued. “He’s the mystery guy. He comes in in sweats every day, and then God knows what he does after that. So hopefully he’s doing this recovery and he’s getting better each and every day. When we get him back, we get him back.”
Dave Early: Steve Nash says Ben Simmons hasn’t made any new progress in terms of ramp up. Said there wasn’t a new MRI.
Kristian Winfield: Steve Nash says Ben Simmons has yet to resume individual workouts. Nash says he has no clarity on what the next steps are in Simmons’ rehab.
Brian Lewis: To be clear, Ben Simmons did NOT go through a full practice with the Brooklyn. But this is the first time his back had improved enough that they were comfortable putting him on the flight since Feb. 26 in Milwaukee. Baby steps. #Nets
Brian Lewis: Steve Nash said Ben Simmons has made progress and “is feeling a lot less pain.” #nets #nba
￼ Pat McAfee: “Ben Simmons is exactly what the Nets are missing right now.. there is an expectation that he will play this year" ~ @ShamsCharania #PMSLive
Nets coach Steve Nash remains optimistic, but Simmons hasn't been able to do anything on the floor in weeks. The Nets have played some of their best basketball of the season recently, winning six of their past seven games behind the power of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Nets players and coaches continue to say that Simmons is in good spirits.
Nick Friedell: Nash said he would be comfortable putting Ben Simmons into a playoff game — even if it meant that he hadn’t played at all during the regular season. Nash made it clear it may not be in a starting role — but the Nets will take whatever they can get at this point.
Brooklyn Nets guard Ben Simmons has a herniated disk in his back, coach Steve Nash said prior to Monday night's 114-106 win against the Utah Jazz. Nash remains optimistic that Simmons will play at some point this season, but with just 11 regular-season games left, the organization is running out of time for the former All-Star to make his season debut. Simmons had an epidural last week to alleviate some pressure in his back. "He's had this a couple years ago, so he's had [herniated disks] throughout his career at some points," Nash said. "And I guess there was a flare-up. I'm not sure when they recognized it was beyond a back flare-up and a herniated disk or what not, but somewhere along the line there, that was the reason for the epidural."
Nick Friedell: Nash says Simmons has a herniated disc in his back. Nash is still optimistic that Simmons plays at some point this year — but the Nets are running out of time.
"He's doing good," Durant said of Simmons. "He looks good as far as just walking around and being around the team. Haven't seen him do anything on the basketball court as much, but a couple walk-through things. But I think his spirits are in the right place and he's excited to be a part of the group and looking forward to having him out on the floor -- I definitely don't want him to rush back for us and his back is not right, so take all the time he needs to get his body right and once he's out there we're ready to rock and roll."
June 26, 2022 | 6:52 am EDT Update
Not much of Murdock’s take was optimistic if you’re a Nets fan. Indeed, he referred to the franchise’s current situation as “destruction” in the podcast and suggested perhaps more firmly than other pundits that Durant could indeed leave. “The vision is on the verge of crumbling,” he wrote. “It didn’t have to be this way,” he said, summing up. “This team … and it’s ironic. Kevin came to reconcile relationships, build relationships with his BFF’s and it’s not working out. It’s doing the exact opposite. And you juxtapose that with Golden State winning…” “Now, you have reports that Kyrie is looking elsewhere. I made some calls. Kevin Durant has not talked to the team in weeks. I don’t think Kevin is confident in the front office right now. I don’t know if he’s at the stage of leaving but there’s a big uneasiness from not only from the Kyrie side, but the KD side as well.”
And Murdock reiterated reports that Durant, who had in the past recruited free agents, is not doing that now. “At least right now, he’s one of those guys who doesn’t want to recruit, isn’t in the position to recruit or doesn’t feel like he is a position to recruit whether you like that or not.
At the center of it, Murdock pointed out multiple times is the Nets relationship with Irving. “His biggest beef is that he feels that the front office didn’t grow to understand Kyrie, whatever that means. I would push back on that when a guy leaves for two weeks at a time … Kyrie earns the lion’s share of the blame. But I think KD believes that ‘hey, you guys didn’t understand this guy. You didn’t try to figure out where he was coming from.’”
Still, Durant believes the Nets didn’t support Irving particularly when they decided not to play him at all in October, after he refused to get vaccinated like all but a handful of NBA players, then brought him back in October. “That’s just how he feels. ‘Hey man, I brought this guy in, him and Kyrie, and the front office didn’t do enough to support him at a time when we needed to support him.”
Moreover, Murdock pointed to the Nets decision to dump Adam Harrington, their long-time assistant coach and director of development, as a big negative for KD. Durant and Harrington go back to KD’s time in Oklahoma City when Harrington was his shooting coach. “And here’s another thing, KOC, the Nets got rid of Adam Harrington. who’s very close to Kevin. He’s one of Kevin’s guys. And that had a big ripple effect on how Kevin feels about this right now. He’s still in this figure-it-out mode but there is some fire to that smoke that he’s kind of reevaluating where he stands with this.”
LeBron James and Kyrie Irving won a ring together before, and it may not have been their last … ’cause Matt Barnes tells TMZ Sports the Lakers could be smelling champagne if Kyrie Irving joins L.A. Matt — who played for the Purple and Gold for two seasons — spoke about the recent Irving rumors out at LAX this week … and he told us if Uncle Drew ends up with the Lakers, it could result in the franchise’s 18th championship.
The Hawks could still pursue Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton in free agency. Sources tell The Athletic that the Hawks’ interest in the 23-year-old would be contingent on landing him for less than a max contract. That may not be an option, as the Pistons, who have the cap space for a max contract, are expected to be aggressive in their pursuit of Ayton in free agency.