Nets’ Ben Simmons plans to return Friday. How will Brooklyn handle long-term concerns?


Brooklyn Nets guard Ben Simmons is planning to play against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, he told reporters Tuesday. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Simmons hasn’t played since Nov. 28 after he exited a game against the Orlando Magic with left knee soreness, later diagnosed as a muscle strain.
  • Earlier in the season, the guard missed four games because of left knee soreness and had to undergo plasma treatment in addition to having it drained multiple times. He missed all of last season after holding out before being traded from the 76ers and suffering back issues in Brooklyn.
  • Simmons is averaging 8.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.2 steals this season — all career lows.


Prior to the injury, Simmons was in the midst of his most effective stretch of the season, averaging 14 points, 11.7 rebounds and 6.7 assists over his last six games with the Nets.

After the game against Orlando, coach Jacque Vaughn said that Simmons was considered day to day. Simmons has missed three games so far. During that span, the Nets recorded wins over the Wizards and Raptors while suffering one loss to the Celtics.

At 13-12, Brooklyn currently sits sixth in the Eastern Conference and will face the Hornets at 7:30 p.m. ET Wednesday before hosting the Hawks on Friday.

How important is Simmons’ return for Brooklyn?

The Nets could use Simmons, especially after a loss to the Celtics where their undersized guards struggled against Boston’s length. After Simmons, Brooklyn’s point guard depth gets thin as Kyrie Irving isn’t the playmaker Simmons is. The Nets have Charlotte and Atlanta at home Wednesday and Friday before starting a four-game road trip against Indiana, Washington, Toronto and Detroit, all winnable games. The pathway for Simmons to kick rust off while aiding in winning is there. — Schiffer

What’s the long-term concern level?

Simmons said he thinks his leg injuries have been related to his offseason back surgeries, which makes it fair to wonder how recurring of an issue this will be throughout the season and how the Nets will handle it. Simmons said he might need to split back-to-backs to load manage his body, but he can only speculate so much at this point. The Nets have already struggled to stay healthy and manage the workload of their stars. Simmons’ issues add another layer to that situation. — Schiffer

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(Photo: Cary Edmondson / USA Today)


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