Ben Simmons #10 of the Brooklyn Nets walks by head...

Ben Simmons #10 of the Brooklyn Nets walks by head coach Doc Rivers of the Philadelphia 76ers during halftime against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center on March 10, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Brooklyn Nets defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 129-100.  Credit: Getty Images

Ben Simmons has a herniated disc in his back — a recurrence of an injury he experienced in 2020, Steve Nash said.

Nash said he still believes Simmons, who had an epidural last week, will be able to play this season. To the Nets coach's knowledge, surgery on the back has not been discussed.

“I don’t think it changes the outcome necessarily,” Nash said before the Nets were to take on the Jazz at Barclays Center Monday. “We still have high hopes that he can come back. He’s had moments during his rehab where he’s on the court doing some things, and it looks like he’s about to turn a corner, and then there’s a setback. So, I still feel optimistic that he can play for us.”

Nash said the epidural provided “some relief, but I don’t know how much or if it’s a total success or how long it takes for that to be called a success.”

He added that Simmons has had some form of the injury “throughout his career at some points,” though he wasn’t clear on when the Nets discovered that the injury went beyond a short-term flare up that cropped up over the course of his reconditioning. The first reports of Simmons dealing with a herniated disc go back to February 2020; the Nets have previously described the injury as soreness or tightness, and generally haven't been forthcoming about his status.

Simmons hasn’t played since last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals, originally sat out for reconditioning before the back issue cropped up and has never fully practiced with the team since coming over in the James Harden trade on February 10. Nash last week revealed Simmons had an MRI on the back “weeks ago” and that it did not come back clean. At the time, he did not specify the nature of the injury.

“From what I know, he trained pretty hard for five, six months and was in a great place” before coming to the Nets, Nash said. “Unfortunately, I think there was a little flare-up at some point in there and it’s never quite turned the corner since. I think he had months of five, six days a week on-court and was doing very well. Just unfortunate but we’ll stay the course and hopefully we’ll have great resolutions with this in the future.”

He added that there likely wouldn’t be a point where it would be too late for a healthy Simmons to join the team — even, it was implied, in the throes of the playoffs.

“I think if he’s able to get back to playing, I think we’d want to incorporate him at any point,” he said.

The Nets could certainly use the All-Star swingman, especially as it appears Kyrie Irving will continue to not be allowed to play in home games or in Toronto, whom they may face in the play-in game.

“The biggest downside of all that is just the amount of burden it puts on the rest of the guys — how many more minutes they have to play, how much more responsibility they have to assume, so it takes its toll,” Nash said, specifically referring to the long stretch they had to play without Kevin Durant, who had an MCL sprain earlier in the season, and Irving. “That’s the hard part. But as far as in-game that night, we do the best we can. We still try to strive for playing the way we’ve preached since Day One and trying to be as competitive as possible and not having any excuses. Just trying to get better every night and try to compete and win the game. But at the same time, [we are] always underlining the theme of improvement, of trying to get as close to our principles as possible.”

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