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Ben Simmons Nets’ season in doubt after latest diagnosis

NBA

March 26, 2023 | 2:34 a.m

MIAMI — Ben Simmons has been diagnosed with a nerve impingement in his back.

But what does that mean for the Nets and their injured All-Star?

Simmons will remain out of action while the Nets determine the best long-term treatment. The team declined to specify whether it was a simple flare-up of the nerve Simmons was struggling with, a new herniated disc like the one that required surgery in May 2022, or a different issue altogether.

A specialist who spoke to The Post said a simple flare-up of the old problem was the most likely scenario, but any of the three possibilities would end Simmons’ season.

“He’s really under the care of advisory specialists to see how the next step forward is going to be,” said Nets coach Jacque Vaughn, who spoke to Simmons on Friday but shed no light on what scenario his player is facing .

“There are some things I can control and some things I can’t. What I can’t control is the impingement. What I can control is getting this group ready to play. And then, honestly, the realism that he won’t be joining us for the rest of the year, honestly.”

But what about next season? Simmons himself said in November that the nerve could take a year and a half to fully recover after surgery.

Ben Simmons
Noah K. Murray/NY Post

“Yes, it takes time to build up, especially with a nerve injury,” Simmons said at the time. “It takes 18 months for your nerves to fully heal. People don’t know that. But over time, you know, I’m getting better and better. Just keep going.”

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Simmons had a microdiscectomy, a surgical procedure to repair the herniated L-4 disc, on May 5, 2022. dr Robert Watkins IV performed the surgery at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital in Los Angeles.

dr Neel Anand, orthopedic spine surgeon and co-director of spinal trauma at the Cedars-Sinai Spine Center in Los Angeles (which is affiliated with the hospital where Simmons had his procedure) agreed with Simmons’ schedule.

“If he says 18 months, someone told him that. Someone will say that if they know you have a significant nerve problem,” said Dr. Anand the post from a lecture in Dublin. “He had a microdiscectomy. … you are operated on for a herniated disc that is pressing on a nerve.

“The operation only removes the disc and relieves the nerve. It doesn’t make the nerve normal. … So the nerve is damaged, injured or whatever. The nerve must heal itself. That someone told him that 18 months means he has a serious nervous problem. And yes, it would be correct to say that it could take 18 months to get better. Only time will tell.”

Simmons is averaging career lows of 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists this season.

He had his knee drained, had platelet-rich plasma injections before the All-Star break, and hasn’t played since Feb. 15.

Even before that, Simmons didn’t have the blast he showed while forming three All-Star teams with the 76ers.

The microdiscectomy may have fixed the herniated disc, but it will take some time for the damage to reverse.

How long is up in the air, but that 18-month estimate would put Simmons online for a full recovery by November.

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“Yes. That all makes sense. If he said that, he clearly had significant nerve pressure and nerve impairment. Obviously someone told him that,” Dr Anand told the Post.

“It means there has been significant pressure on the nerve and significant nerve impairment. It indicates that he had real nerve symptoms and real pressure… it indicates that he definitely had some pretty significant pathology.”

Vaughn wasn’t sure if Simmons, who will earn $80.2 million over the next two seasons, will need another surgery.

“That fracture has been removed and that pressure has been taken off the nerve, but the nerve has yet to recover and that can take a long time,” said Dr. Anand to The Post. “That can compress the nerve walls so he has a flare of the original nerve at that point, or he has a new herniated disc or something else.

“That’s very unlikely, the last scenario…extremely rare. The highest is probably a flare-up of the same problem. The nerve is not quite normal yet. It is inflamed and only reacts. That would be the highest probability. It is also for the best for him.”


Seth Curry, who missed the Nets’ 129-100 win over the Heat on Saturday due to personal reasons, will also miss Sunday in Orlando.


Edmond Sumner was forced to leave the game early (Hip) but says he’ll be fine facing the magic. “We had to freeze it to calm it down. I’m pretty confident. If I can’t walk in the morning, Ed Sumner plays,” Sumner said. “There’s no question about me unless I literally can’t walk.”

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