Nets’ Ben Simmons Could Return Monday

Nets guard Ben Simmons could return to action as soon as Monday, when Brooklyn takes on Utah, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Simmons hasn’t appeared in a game with the Nets since suffering a lower back nerve impingement on Nov. 6. The ailment has limited him to just six games so far this season.

According to Wojnarowski, Simmons is set to practice with the Nets’ G League team in Long Island over the weekend and there’s “optimism” his return could happen as early as Monday. According to The New York Post’s Brian Lewis, coach Jacque Vaughn said Simmons is expected to be back next week (Twitter link).

While his injuries over the past few seasons have hindered his career, Simmons has been effective when he’s been able to get on the court with Brooklyn. In his six games this year, he averaged 6.5 points, 10.8 rebounds and 6.7 assists in 31.8 minutes per game across six starts. It’s a small sample size, but it’s worth noting the Nets went 3-3 with Simmons in the lineup and have gone 14-23 since. In 48 career games (39 starts) in Brooklyn, Simmons holds averages of 6.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.2 steals.

It will be interesting to see how Simmons’ return ultimately impacts the rotation, especially ahead of the trade deadline. Vaughn began the year starting Simmons alongside Spencer Dinwiddie, Cameron Johnson, Nic Claxton and Mikal Bridges. Then, after some experimentation and injuries, Vaughn landed on using Dorian Finney-Smith in the starting five alongside those four after Simmons went down.

Dinwiddie and Finney-Smith have seen their names involved in trade rumors, for what it’s worth. Players like Dennis Smith Jr., Royce O’Neale, Lonnie Walker and Day’Ron Sharpe are among those battling for bench minutes.

In whatever form it takes, the currently 11th-seeded Nets could use the boost from getting Simmons back into form. Brooklyn acquired the former No. 1 overall pick from Philadelphia in a trade deadline deal that sent James Harden to the Sixers in 2022, but he never played that season. At one point, Simmons – a three-time All-Star and two-time Defensive Team member – was one of the best defenders in the NBA. His agent recently said his injuries were “freakish” and not something that will be a recurring problem in the future.

If Simmons isn’t able to return to action Monday against the Jazz, his next opportunity to suit up would be Wednesday versus the Suns. After that, the Nets don’t play again until Saturday, Feb. 3 in Philadelphia.

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