“Ben has been cleared to progress to his next stage of his rehab and is progressing really well,” Simmons’ agent Bernie Lee told the New York Post’s Brian Lewis on Wednesday. “And we remain very excited about his ability to return to form next year.”
Brooklyn Nets fans eagerly awaited Simmons’ “return to form” last season to no avail. The 26-year-old struggled to make an impact in Brooklyn’s rotation, averaging 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 6.1 assists in 42 appearances. Injuries played a large role in the colossal dropoff from Simmons’ play in Philadelphia, where he made three consecutive All-Star appearances. The former Sixer missed three extended periods in the first half of the season while dealing with knee soreness. He was then sidelined during the All-Star break and eventually shut down due to a nerve impingement in his back.
Simmons underwent a microdiscectomy on his injured back last off-season. Several studies done on NBA players who underwent the procedure found they typically return to their normal level of play in the second post-operative season.
Given Ben Simmons made his living with the Sixers aggressively attacking downhill, finding teammates, and playing above the rim, getting the Aussie back to his accustomed athletic self is among Brooklyn’s top priorities this offseason. Nets general manager Sean Marks spoke confidently about Simmons’ trajectory last month:
“He’s checking the boxes on meeting different markers along the way; so at this point he does not need surgery,” he said. “That is the hope going forward, that he will not have to endure another surgery and we can keep progressing. The timeline for this is that he’ll be back 100 percent probably by Sept. 1. That would be the goal and he’s a full-go in training camp and ready to go.”
Ben Goorjian, head coach of the Australian national team, recently said he is expecting Simmons to play in the Fiba World Cup in late August:
“I think Ben’s mindset is getting healthy, getting in shape, and getting ready to play,” Goorjian said via Eurohoops. “And I think he has been along that line for a while and I felt it last time. As we sit now, there is a really strong chance that he plays.”
Simmons expressed interest in the idea of returning to the team but did not make a commitment and was left off the initial roster. The Nets big man has been training at Brooklyn’s HSS Training Center in recent weeks, posting multiple pictures on his Instagram story. He shared a picture of the court at the University of Miami Wednesday.
Following the blockbuster trade that sent Ben Simmons to Brooklyn and James Harden to Philadelphia at the 2022 deadline, the former number-one pick is the Nets’ highest-paid player by far at $78 million over the next two seasons. Recapturing at least some of Simmons’ past production is a must if Brooklyn hopes to maximize its potential in 2023-24.
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