Jacque Vaughn’s Nets have one more game to play away from Barclays Center before wrapping up a five-game road trip. Regardless of how things go on Tuesday night in Oklahoma City, though, it’s been a good trip. Unfortunately for Ben Simmons, he’s only stayed in the loop by watching them play on TV back at home.
After kicking things off with a win in Houston over the Rockets, Brooklyn lost by five to the Milwaukee Bucks. They backed that up with an overtime win over the Timberwolves before upsetting the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night.
What about Simmons, though? Well, he’s been sidelined since before the All-Star break with knee and back troubles. During his postgame press conference after a close win in Denver, Vaughn didn’t commit one way or another regarding Simmons’ status for the remainder of this year (via New York Post):
“Yeah, I think first of all I’ll just be pretty simple. He’s still managing his back and knee soreness. He’s back home in Brooklyn. We’ll get a chance to kind of see where he’s at when we get back home after this trip.”
Shouldn’t Vaughn have some kind of idea of how his player is progressing from injury? Even though Brooklyn is on the road and Simmons is back home? My guess is he does but doesn’t want to talk about it publicly. It makes sense for two reasons.
If the Nets do think Simmons will get back on the floor at some point, there’s no use in putting a timeline on it. That’ll just draw attention from the media. And if they think (or, already know) he’s done for the year, there’s no sense in drawing more of that aforementioned attention in his direction.
In all reality, there are only 14 games left in the regular season. Brooklyn is currently 39-29 and battling with the Knicks for the Eastern Conference’s fifth playoff spot. The Nets have done just fine without Simmons. Even when he’s been on the floor, he hasn’t been much of a factor (like he used to be, at least).
In 42 games (33 starts), Simmons is averaging 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 6.1 assists, and 1.3 steals per night. That’s a far cry from his career averages of 14.7, 7.8, 7.5, and 1.6, respectively.
Unlike Simmons’ former teammates in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, the Nets probably can’t easily end this experiment with a trade. They will reportedly still try at some point this summer, but it’ll be hard to find a taker, especially if he doesn’t get back on the floor. He’s under contract for the next two seasons with a combined salary just shy of $80 million.
Matt Musico can be reached at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.