Nets’ Ben Simmons available, likely to return vs. Jazz after back injury

Brooklyn Nets point guard Ben Simmons is available to play against the Utah Jazz after being sidelined for nearly three months due to a back issue, the team announced Monday.

Simmons, a three-time All-Star, appeared in six games for the Nets this season. He played his last game on Nov. 6 before missing time due to a pinched nerve in his back.

Coach Jacque Vaughn said Saturday that there was a “high likelihood” Simmons would play Monday. The No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft practiced Saturday with Brooklyn’s G-League affiliate.

Simmons, 27, has a history of back injuries. He didn’t play after the All-Star break last season due to a knee issue and nerve impingement in his back. He also did not compete during the 2021-22 season because of a back injury and a holdout from playing when he was with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Through six games this season, the three-time All-Star is averaging 6.5 points, 10.8 rebounds and 6.7 assists. The Nets are 18-27, 11th in the Eastern Conference.

What to expect in Simmons’ potential return

It’s hard to say what to expect from Simmons. Even before this latest injury, he was on a comeback path, trying to return to his former All-Star form. We haven’t seen that Ben Simmons since he left Philadelphia, but he did seem to be playing better in six games with the Nets this season than he had been since the trade that brought him to Brooklyn. The Nets remain in wait-and-see mode.

We’ll see if Simmons is on any kind of minutes restriction or if he’s easing his way back in. The biggest question isn’t just what form he’ll be in now as he returns, but also how long he will sustain his health. Simmons has struggled to stay on the court in Brooklyn. If he can, the Nets can certainly use his rare combination of size and speed, as well as distribution and defense. — Mike Vorkunov, NBA national writer

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(Photo: Brad Penner / USA Today)

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