ben simmons
Brad Penner | USA TODAY Sports

A few weeks back, Nets coach Jacques Vaughn denied the team had engaged in “talks” about shutting down Ben Simmons for the rest of the season.

But as we said then: Do you really need to talk about something that will just naturally happen?

From The Post:

Injured Nets point forward Ben Simmons has been diagnosed with a nerve impingement in his back after a reevaluation on Friday.

Simmons will remain out of action while the Nets determine the best long-term course of treatment.

But with just nine games left on the regular season schedule and the Nets having slumped into the play-in, it appears all but certain that the 26-year-old Simmons will not return to the court until next season.

MORE: WFAN’s Boomer Esiason rips Knicks’ Julius Randle: ‘Get rid of him’

Simmons has missed 16 straight games (counting Saturday’s matchup with the Heat in Miami) with back and knee issues. And before then his minutes had been reduced and he had not scored in double-figures for almost a month. So all of this should shock no one. If anything, the question now is whether Simmons will be with the Nets at all next season. Can they even give him away in a trade?

Anyway, Saturday’s tilt is a big one. The Heat currently have a half-game lead on the Nets for the 6-seed and last spot above the play-in zone in the Eastern Conference.

Yankees’ Anthony Volpe has ‘high-level’ support to be Opening Day shortstop
The Big East has a chance to be the Big East again
Jets’ Mekhi Becton appears ready to protect Aaron Rodgers
Giants are clearly all-in on Darren Waller staying healthy
Yogi Berra, Reggie Jackson and fancy hotel towels: A Yankees tale

James Kratch can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jameskratch.

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.