The Brooklyn Nets still hope to get a healthy Ben Simmons for the stretch run. But what kind of Simmons they would get back is anybody’s guess.
Simmons (left knee soreness) will miss his fourth consecutive game since the All-Star break when the free-falling Nets visit their crosstown rival New York Knicks in a crucial matchup Wednesday night.
Before the Nets dropped their third straight, a 118-104 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks Tuesday night, coach Jacque Vaughn said there is zero discussion about shutting Simmons down for the remainder of the season.
“We want to get to a position where we have no reoccurrence of swelling or anything of that nature,” Vaughn said.
There is no definite timetable for his return, but the hope is to get him back sometime this month.
“I don’t want to get into markers and what he’s doing on a daily basis,” Vaugn said. “I just kind of want to put it all in the bucket of strength. And that’s what it is at the end of the day.”
“So, whether that’s consisting of weight room stuff, conditioning stuff, basketball stuff, it’s all built around him trying to strengthen and get back to playing.”
Simmons is in the midst of his worst season in the NBA following his long hiatus from his messy exit from Philadelphia and mental health battle. He is averaging career lows — 6.39 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 6.1 assists — across the board for the Nets in 42 games.
Vaughn uses him as Nic Claxton’s backup when he’s fit to play. He still can’t shoot, and worse, he’s shying away from attacking the rim, limiting Vaughn’s options to deploy him in optimal lineups.
Simmons’ continued regression and health woes have led to former NBA player-turned-analyst Chandler Parsons to speculate that his Nets’ tenure would end up in a buyout.
“We have to take him for what he is I think eventually, it’s gonna lead to a buyout and he’s most likely a minimum player for the rest of his career,” Parsons said on FanDuel TV.
Simmons is owed $35.4 million this season and is still due for $78 million in the next two seasons. His market value has gone down to zero with his albatross contract.
Parsons, who retired young because of injuries, said it’s crazy to watch Simmons turn this quickly from a perennial All-Star to a shell of himself.
“It’s a strong mental block, in my opinion, where he just can’t overcome,” Parsons said.
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