Brooklyn Nets guard Dennis Smith Jr. and guard Ben Simmons...

Brooklyn Nets guard Dennis Smith Jr. and guard Ben Simmons look on from the bench in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards at Barclays Center on Friday, Dec. 8, 2023. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Ben Simmons will remain out for the rest of 2023 as he continues to recover from the nerve impingement in his lower back.

In a statement before Wednesday night's loss to the Knicks, the Nets said that Simmons be reevaluated in approximately two more weeks as he’s “displayed consistent strength improvement in the affected area”. Simmons has also increased his individual court work but still isn’t participating with teammates. He hasn’t played since being injured on Nov. 6 and has missed 20 consecutive games.

“As he continues to gain strength, that will allow additional bodies to be around him,” coach Jacque Vaughn said of Simmons. “So no, he's not playing two-on-two, three-on-three right now. Hopefully that's in the future, going ahead.

“But I think overall, you're just adding different stimuli in order to get to a point where you can put bodies around him.”

The Nets also had better injury news regarding both Dennis Smith Jr. and Lonnie Walker IV. Smith, who had been dealing with an upper back sprain, was cleared for full basketball activities and will listed as questionable Friday against the Nuggets.

Wednesday is Smith’s seventh consecutive game that he’s missed. He was out for six games last month with a lower back sprain.

As for Walker, his return could come next week after dealing with a left hamstring strain. Walker has missed nine games, including Wednesday, but has been “steadily increasing his individual on-court activity.”

Per the Nets, he’s expected to progress to five-on-five play — the final clearance for injured players — over the next several days.

Knicks' Sims out

The Knicks announced Wednesday that Jericho Sims will be reevaluated in 7-10 days with a sprained right ankle.

Sims injured his ankle during the Knicks’ win at the Lakers on Monday. It’s another blow in the frontcourt with fellow center Mitchell Robinson (ankle) possibly out for the season.

Coach Tom Thibodeau said the Knicks could go center-less with lineups and could also turn to Julius Randle and Isaiah Hartenstein, if needed. The Knicks also signed veteran center Taj Gibson earlier this month

"Everything's on the table, obviously, when you have people down," Thibodeau said. "Then whoever you call upon, just get in there and get the job done."

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