Brooklyn Nets shutting down Ben Simmons for rest of season

ByNick Friedell ESPN logo
Wednesday, March 29, 2023

The Brooklyn Nets are shutting down guard Ben Simmons for the rest of the season, coach Jacque Vaughn said Tuesday.

"Ben will not be joining us the rest of the year and through the playoffs," Vaughn said after practice. "After consulting with our doctors, multiple specialists, he's just going to begin a rehab program. Our doctors and the specialists feel and think that he'll have a full recovery so that starts now."

Simmons hasn't played since the Nets' final game before the All-Star break last month because of a nerve issue in his back. He has missed a total of 33 games this season with knee and back injuries. As of now, Vaughn said the Nets don't expect Simmons to need another surgery this summer.

"That is not in sight," Vaughn said. "That's the recommendation right now."

Simmons did not play last season as he waited for a trade from the Philadelphia 76ers, but then underwent back surgery last summer after not being able to return to play following the deal that sent him to the Nets just before the February 2022 deadline.

In his return to the court this season, Simmons has seen a steep decline from his days as an All-Star with the Philadelphia 76ers, posting career lows in minutes (26.3), points (6.9), rebounds (6.3), assists (6.1) and free throw percentage (43.9).

Vaughn remained outwardly hopeful when asked if he thought Simmons could still be a high-level player in the league.

"That's our goal," Vaughn said. "And overall you just think about, he's 6-10, athletic, what he can do and bring to our team, how he can help our group on both ends of the floor. We want to be involved in that. We want to see that. I want to coach Ben and I want to be able to push Ben to get back to all-defensive team and impact our team on both ends of the floor. So that's definitely the goal going forward."

Simmons, 26, has another two years remaining on his contract, paying him $37.8 million in 2023-24 and $40.3 million in 2024-25.

Nets general manager Sean Marks said the organization would continue to be there for Simmons as he deals with this latest setback.

"Same thing we've done in the past, is support him," Marks told ESPN. "This is a young man that has been through a very traumatic and pretty arduous last couple years here. And this is not news that he wants to hear. He didn't want specialists telling him, 'Hey look, here's the best thing for you.' The good news, they were in unison in their plan for a full recovery. I worked hard with these doctors, all the different specialists as well as Bernie Lee, his new agent, to come up with a plan that's hopefully going to get him back, and back to being the Ben we've all seen."

After trading away Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving just before the February deadline and moving forward with swingman Mikal Bridges as the new face of the team, Marks is still holding out hope that Simmons will be able to contribute to the new group at some point in the future.

"I do feel for him because I know he wants to be out here," Marks said. "I know he wants to be part of this team. Nobody likes being told 'You didn't amount to what you should have, and it shouldn't be this, you should have done this, and so forth' I hope he uses all of this as whatever you want to call it, chalkboard fodder for motivation, and attack [his rehab]. But I think he would fit with these guys we've got and he fits for multiple reasons. So we hope that he's back -- and that he's healthy, ready to go."

The Nets (40-35) head into Tuesday night's games tied for sixth place in the Eastern Conference with the Miami Heat.

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