Ben Simmons’ Nets season is in doubt after latest diagnosis

MIAMI — Ben Simmons has been diagnosed with a nerve impingement in his back.

But what does this mean for the Nets and their injured All-Star?

Simmons will remain sidelined while the Nets determine the best long-term course of treatment. The team didn’t say whether it was a simple flare-up of the nerve Simmons was dealing with, a new herniated disc like the one that required surgery in May 2022, or a completely different problem.

An expert who spoke with The Post said a simple flare-up of the old issue is the most likely scenario, but any of the three possibilities would end Simmons’ season.

“He’s really under the care of the experts to see what the next step is,” said Nets coach Zach Vaughn, who spoke with Simmons on Friday but did not shed light on the scenario facing his player.

“There are some things I can control and some I can’t. What I can’t control is the impact. What I can control is getting this team ready to play. And then in all honesty, the reality that he’s not going to join us for the rest of the year, in all honesty.”

But what about next season? Simmons himself said in November that the nerve could take a year and a half to fully recover from the surgery.

Ben Simmons
Ben Simmons
Noah K. Murray/NY Post

“Yeah, it takes time to build, especially with a nerve injury,” Simmons said at the time. “It takes 18 months for your nerves to fully heal. People don’t know that. But with time, you know, I’m getting better and better. Just keep pushing.”

Simmons underwent a microdiscectomy, a surgery to repair a herniated L-4 disc, on May 5, 2022. Robert Watkins IV performed the surgery at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital in Los Angeles.

Dr. Neel Anand, an orthopedic spine surgeon and co-director of spinal trauma at Cedars-Sinai Spine Center in Los Angeles (affiliated with the hospital where Simmons had his procedure) agreed with Simmons’ timeline.

“If he says 18 months, someone told him so. One would say that when you know you have a major nerve problem,” said Dr. Anand told The Post from a speech in Dublin. “He had a microdiscectomy. … You have an operation to remove a herniated disc that is pressing on a nerve.

“Surgery only takes the disc out and takes the pressure off the nerve. It does not make the nerve normal. … So the nerve is damaged, injured or whatever. The nerve should recover on its own. So someone told him that 18 months means he had a major nervous breakdown. And yes, it would be fair to say that it may take 18 months to improve. Only time will tell.”

Simmons is averaging a career low 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists this season.

He had his knee drained, platelet-rich plasma injections before the All-Star break and hasn’t played since Feb. 15.

Even before that, Simmons lacked the burst he showed while making three All-Star teams with the 76ers.

The microdiscectomy may have fixed the herniated disc, but it will still take time for the damage to repair itself.

How long is still up in the air, but that 18-month estimate would put Simmons in line for a full recovery by November.

“Yes. That all makes sense. In saying that, he clearly had significant nerve pressure and significant nerve impingement. Clearly someone told him that,” Dr. Anand told The Post.

“It means there was significant pressure on the nerve and significant impingement of the nerve. It shows that he had real nervous symptoms and real stress … it shows that he definitely had a pretty significant pathology.”

Vaughn wasn’t sure if Simmons, who will make $80.2 million over the next two seasons, will need further surgery.

“That hernia was removed and that pressure was taken off the nerve, but the nerve still has to recover and that can take a long time,” said Dr. Anand told The Post. “That can compress the nerve walls, so at that point he has a flare-up of the original nerve or he has a new herniated disc or something else.

“This is very unlikely, this last scenario… extremely rare. The higher is probably an exacerbation of the same problem. The nerve is not yet completely normal. It’s inflamed and just reacting. That would be the most likely. It’s also the best for him.”

Seth Curry, who missed the Nets’ 129-100 win over the Heat on Saturday due to personal reasons, will also be out Sunday in Orlando.

Edmond Sumner had to leave the game early (hip), but says he’ll be fine against the Magic. “We had to freeze it to calm down. I’m pretty sure of myself. Unless I can’t walk in the morning, Ed Sumner will play,” Sumner said. “There’s no doubt about it for me unless I literally can’t walk.”