Nets big man Ben Simmons arrived late ahead of Brooklyn’s 112-102 loss to Oklahoma City on Sunday. Head coach Jacque Vaughn said Simmons experienced back strain during warmups before the decision was made to retain him.
“He went through warmups and felt some tension,” Vaughn said after the game. “He’s going to be on the trip with us, so I hope it’s a game, I hope so.”
Simmons has a history of back issues. The three-time All-Star underwent a microdiscectomy in his lower back in May. According to the Hospital for Special Surgery, the procedure is intended to reduce pain and other symptoms that occur when a herniated disc presses on a nerve root.
The 26-year-old was ruled out of last year’s playoffs after he reported discomfort during rehabilitation. Simmons detailed the severity of a back injury he sustained against the Bucks during the 2020-21 season on The Old Man and the Three with JJ Redick podcast.
“I was throwing up because I was in a lot of pain,” the Nets forward said. “The pain goes down the whole leg. He couldn’t sit in a car. Everything he was doing was fucking painful.”
Simmons still hasn’t looked like his former self athletically this season, displaying visible back discomfort when he makes contact at multiple points earlier in the year.
I thought this play was not talked about enough on Monday. Simmons generates the most contact we’ve ever seen and appears taking him from behind.
He said this when I asked him about the aggressiveness after the first game. It shouldn’t be too surprising after surgery, but the effects clearly linger there. https://t.co/V0MT0adWkmpic.twitter.com/vXydcPQo63
—Erik Slater (@erikslater_) October 26, 2022
However, those grimaces have been few and far between over Brooklyn’s recent hot streak. Instead, the former No. 1 pick missed two extended periods as she dealt with knee pain and a calf strain in her left leg.
Vaughn didn’t elaborate on the severity of Simmons’ back soreness Sunday outside of his hope that it would be a one-game absence.
The Australian went scoreless while taking just three shots during the Nets’ 109-98 loss to Boston on Thursday, his first game in Kevin Durant’s extended absence. Despite modest scoring totals, Simmons made a significant impact through his defense, rebounding and transition passes during Brooklyn’s hot streak over the past month.
Sunday’s loss marks back-to-back losses for the Nets for the first time since mid-November. Simmons will be with the team as Brooklyn looks to get back in the win column when they open a five-game road trip in San Antonio on Tuesday.