Ben Simmons unlikely to make Nets debut this year: pundits

ORLANDO, Fla. — Ben Simmons’ recent setback must have raised alarm, with orthopedists speaking to The Post questioning whether the Nets newcomer will be ready to debut by the end of the regular season or even during the playoffs.

The 25-year-old All-Star – who the nets essentially was dealt to former MVP James Harden at the close of trading on February 10 — hasn’t played at all since last June 20, first holding out in Philadelphia and now ramping up in Brooklyn.

Now, after suffering what the Nets describe as only “back pain,” Simmons not only wasn’t ready to train as originally hoped last Saturday, but he’s not even cleared to run and sprint or one against nothing to go. It’s several steps to full training, with two outside experts telling the Post it’s unlikely he’ll be fit for the April 10 regular-season finale, while one didn’t even think he’d even make it in the would make the playoffs.

“I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think the odds are against it. Think of it this way: the longer he’s out, the longer he’s likely to stay out. Until you fundamentally change the underlying problem,” said Dr. Rahul Shah, a board certified orthopedic spine and neck surgeon.

Nets guard Ben Simmons (10) during a warm up before the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center.
Ben Simmons
Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

“I don’t think he’s coming back [this season]. I don’t think you have anything to say that he will do convincingly. He has to sprint before he can go one-on-one or five-on-five.”

Shah lives in New Jersey, has been a team doctor for the Magic, and has seen Simmons play a number of times. He compared Simmons’ situation to quicksand and said he expects Simmons to need an epidural cortisone shot and possibly off-season surgery.

Ben Simmons heads to an HSS clinic for rehab.
Ben Simmons heads to an HSS clinic for rehab.

“What do I think will happen? The season ends, the media goes silent, he takes care of whatever he needs to do. And then he’s in rehab and comes back, “Oh yeah, he had a little surgery on his back.” I think that will happen. That could be a shot, and most likely it will be a post-shot procedure.”

While the Nets have invested heavily in Simmons — he’s the heart of the team in the Harden megadeal and is in his second season on a five-year, $177 million deal — getting his back right is paramount. And this is his fourth back injury in just two years.

Simmons had missed eight games in a row and was being treated daily for lower back nerve problems when the 2019-20 campaign was halted by COVID-19. The next season, according to then-76ers coach Brett Brown, he suffered a nerve injury in his lower back and vomited in pain.

There was another flare this season in Philadelphia and now another during his run-up with the Nets. But his new team was closed off as ever, letting him off his last few flights to rest his back but offering no timetable.

“Just keep going with the rehab, strengthen his back in all those areas and keep making progress,” head coach Steve Nash said. “Rehab and just strengthen your back, and get more mobility and more movement dynamics every day.”

dr Armin Tehrany — also a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and clinical assistant professor at Mount Sinai — was a little more optimistic. But Teherany – who has worked with the Jets, Rangers and Islanders team doctors – still sees Simmons missing the regular season.

Nets guard Ben Simmons picks up a loose ball on the field as fans react during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center March 10, 2022 in Philadelphia.
Ben Simmons
Getty Images

“Oh yes. Yes, I definitely see that. The thing about back injuries is that they can become chronic and difficult,” said Teherany, who believed it was feasible that Simmons could return to training in time to prepare for the Play -to qualify in or the playoffs.”Yes, I think that’s fair.”

The Nets are currently eighth in the East behind Toronto. If the season ended now, they would be seventh in the play-in with the Raptors.

Simmons has yet to get clearance to run and sprint and go one against nothing. Then he can eventually step up to five against five. Once that happens, the performance team will likely require him to complete three high-intensity workouts before clearing him.

But time is pressing. Ben Simmons unlikely to make Nets debut this year: pundits


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