Ben Simmons expected to be ready for Nets training camp after back surgery

Brooklyn Nets forward Ben Simmons is expected to fully recover from a back injury before next season’s training camp following a successful microdiscectomy surgery.

Simmons went under the knife Thursday at Cedars-Sinai Marina Del Ray Hospital in Los Angeles, California.

Dr. Robert Watkins IV, the spine consultant for six Los Angeles professional teams — L.A. Rams, L.A. Dodgers, L.A. Lakers, L.A. Clippers, L.A. Kings, and LAFC –performed the surgery. Dr. Watkins IV is the same spine surgeon who performed the back surgery of former Nets and current Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez last December. Lopez successfully returned after three months.

The 25-year-old Simmons will begin a rehabilitation program after an initial three-week recovery period.

Simmons missed the entire last season, citing initially mental health issues following an ugly fallout with his former team, the Philadelphia 76ers. The former top overall pick was eventually traded to the Nets last February — along with Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first-round picks — for James Harden and veteran forward Paul Millsap.

But even after Simmons got his wish to be traded, he has yet to suit up for the Nets. His nagging back injury added to his mental stress. In mid-March, he received an epidural shot for a herniated disc in his back and ramped up his recovery. He contemplated returning in the Game 4 of the first-round series between the Nets and the Boston Celtics but backed out the day before because of a sore back. It turned out he needed surgery.

Simmons has an extensive back injury history. He had four documented cases of the back issue before the 2021-22 season, missing nine games in February 2020 because of a nerve impingement in his lower back. But the nagging back injury came back to haunt him in May last year.

Simmons’ camp and the Nets decided Wednesday that surgery is their best option to address his nagging back issues.

“After consultation with multiple back specialists, it has been determined that the best course of action for Ben’s long-term health is for him to undergo surgery,” the team said in a statement on Wednesday. “The microdiscectomy procedure, scheduled for Thursday, is designed to alleviate pain caused by the herniated disc in Ben’s back. Further dates will be provided following the procedure.”

This is the second time Simmons has missed an entire season in his NBA career. After getting drafted first overall in 2016, Simmons missed the 2016-17 season after suffering a fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone of his right foot.

He has three years left on his $170 million rookie max extension and is set to earn $35 million next season.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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