Nets’ Ben Simmons suffers setback, return still uncertain

Ben Simmons, Brooklyn Nets
Nov 20, 2022; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Ben Simmons (10) dunks on Memphis Grizzlies center Steven Adams (4) in the third quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets‘ signing of veteran center Nerlens Noel is a tell-tale sign that their hope for a Ben Simmons’ return this season is waning.

Nets coach Jacque Vaughn delivered a dampening update on Simmons’ recovery from his left knee soreness before they authored a 28-point comeback win in Boston that snapped a four-game losing streak.

“Update on Ben, during his strengthening process, he did experience some back soreness. Now we are in the process of strengthening the knee while also managing the back,” Vaughn said. “That’s my kind of week’s timetable update. I’m really day to day on what it looks like going forward because of the addition of back.”

Friday night’s win was Simmons’ fifth straight missed game.

The three-time All-Star’s lingering knee and back issues have reduced him to an afterthought this season, following his long hiatus after a messy exit in Philadelphia and mental health battle.

His numbers across the board — 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 6.1 assists — are all career-lows.

Despite Vaughn’s earlier claim that there is zero discussion about shutting down Simmons, it may only be a matter of time.

The Nets have improved to an 11-10 record without Simmons this season following their 28-point comeback win in Boston Friday night.

Shutting Simmons down to focus on his recovery might be the best move for both parties.

His sudden decline has made his contract an albatross and prompted former NBA player-turned-FanDuel TV analyst Chandler Parsons to say Simmons ‘is most likely a minimum player for the rest of his career.’

Simmons stands to earn $35.4 million this season and is owed $78.1 million over the next two seasons.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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