The Brooklyn Nets announced Wednesday that Ben Simmons will undergo a microdiscectomy procedure to alleviate the pain he’s experiencing due to a herniated disk in his back. He will need three to four months of rehab, but he should be fully recovered by the start of training camp in September. The decision to undergo the surgery was reached after “consultation with multiple back specialists,” the team said.
Simmons was traded to Brooklyn in February from the Philadelphia 76ers in the blockbuster James Harden trade. Given how poorly Harden is playing and Simmons’ inability to get on the court, is it time to revisit which team won the trade?
In the 21 regular-season games he’s played in since the trade, Harden is averaging 21 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists on an eFG% of 48.3 and a TS% of 60. In the playoffs so far he’s averaging 18 points, four rebounds and nine assists on an eFG% of 48.4 and a TS% of 57.7.
These are poor numbers for Harden and well below his MVP and All-NBA peak. But at least he’s on the floor.
Simmons has yet to take the floor despite reports that he was ramping up with his physical conditioning and aiming to return before the playoffs. But the apparent back injury flare-up caused setbacks in his training regimen.
The messaging coming out of Nets headquarters and the reports from the NBA newsbreakers seemed to be at odds from the beginning. Was Simmons always hurt? Did he ever have any plans to actually play?
I’m trying to figure out did I miss that game Ben Simmons hurt his back when did this all happen
— Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) May 4, 2022
Given his last appearance on an NBA court and the time he said he needed to get in the right mental head space to play, it all just seemed strange. The next time Simmons plays in an NBA game at least 18 months will have elapsed. What kind of player will he be?
As poorly as Harden is playing, he’s at least giving the 76ers production. Until Simmons takes the floor, Philadelphia is the trade winner. Crazy as it seems.
Simmons is a three-time All-Star, two-time all-defensive team member, and an All-NBA selection. He has three years and $114 million left on his contract. At 6’10 he has the size and tools to help the Nets.
Nets’ star Kevin Durant has a four-year contract extension that will be kicking in this summer. He, Simmons and whatever the team decides to do with the extension-eligible Kyrie Irving are the core of an excellent basketball team.
But is this just theoretical or will Nets fans actually see it?
Simmons and his agent, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul, met with Nets general manager Sean Marks and team officials last month, agreeing to continue to work together on Simmons’ physical and mental well-being to ensure he returns to the court next season with the best possible chance to succeed.
In order for that to happen both sides will need to be open, honest and trust each other. The Nets need to demonstrate that they value Simmons’ best interests, and Simmons needs to show a commitment to his craft and to being a professional.