ben simmons
Eric Hartline | USA TODAY Sports

This was completely predictable.

Ben Simmons‘ comeback is over before it started. The Nets and their mercurial guard have pulled the plug on his long-awaited return to the floor just over 24 hours before it was scheduled to occur. Simmons will not play in Monday’s playoff game against the Celtics at Barclays Center — the Nets are down 3-0 in the series — due to “back soreness.”

“The Nets and Ben Simmons expected he would be ready to play on Monday, but after getting on the court [Saturday] Simmons says he awoke with back soreness [Sunday],” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted. “In the end, the team and Simmons agreed he’ll remain out for Game 4.”

Everyone knew this was going to happen, right? There was no way Simmons was going to suit up once the Nets moved to the brink of elimination with Saturday’s loss to Boston. If the guy could not figure out how to be ready for a do-or-die Game 3, why would he give up his designer duds and courtside seat when the series is already over?

The Nets are in for a wild offseason once the Celtics officially put them out of their misery. Steve Nash is probably packing up his office as we speak; his pink slip feels like an inevitability. Then the next coach is going to inherit a failed experiment with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving that is only going to get messier.


Simmons is getting crushed by all corners of the NBA universe. Hall of Famer Reggie Miller and Stephen A. Smith have piled on so far.

“I feel bad for anyone who was his teammate,” Smith said on ESPN. “He quit on LSU, he quit on the Philadelphia 76ers and now he ain’t showing up for the Brooklyn Nets. We can point to all the excuses, all the rationale that we want to. I do recall despite him not playing, he still filed a grievance to collect $20 million he has not earned.

“This is one of the most pathetic situations that I’ve ever seen in my life. He ain’t going to war, he ain’t going in the octagon, he’s not going into a boxing ring. It’s pulling teeth to get this man to play basketball.”

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.