Brooklyn Nets star Ben Simmons has herniated disk in back; timeline for return still unclear

NEW YORK -- Brooklyn Nets guard Ben Simmons has a herniated disk in his back, coach Steve Nash said prior to Monday night's 114-106 win against the Utah Jazz.

Nash remains optimistic that Simmons will play at some point this season, but with just 11 regular-season games left, the organization is running out of time for the former All-Star to make his season debut. Simmons had an epidural last week to alleviate some pressure in his back.

"He's had this a couple years ago, so he's had [herniated disks] throughout his career at some points," Nash said. "And I guess there was a flare-up. I'm not sure when they recognized it was beyond a back flare-up and a herniated disk or what not, but somewhere along the line there, that was the reason for the epidural."

Nash said at this point the possibility of surgery has not been discussed, but Simmons has yet to be cleared for practice since he was acquired from the Philadelphia 76ers just before the trade deadline last month. Simmons, who has not played this year -- as he waited for a trade from the Sixers -- initially started feeling some back soreness during the last week of February, according to Nash.

"From what I know, he trained pretty hard for five, six months," Nash said. "He was in a great place. Unfortunately, I think there was a little flare-up at some point in there and it's just never quite turned the corner since. I think he had months of five, six days a week on court and was doing very well, so just unfortunate, but we stay the course. And hopefully a good resolution to this in the near future."

Nash said last week that Simmons had an MRI on his back so that the organization could figure out what was causing the discomfort.

"I've had the same issues," Nash said. "But they're all really unique and different, so it's really hard for me to kind of share my experiences with it because my back was totally different. You just never know. You never know how it responds. You feel great and turn a corner and the next week or so or it could be a longer-term thing, so we just have to be patient and see how he goes."

Simmons' new teammates say that the 25-year-old remains in good spirits as he tries to work his way back to the floor.

"I don't have any advice for him," Kevin Durant said after Monday's shootaround. "He understands what he needs to do -- he's a pro. I think he just needs to know we support him, and we want him to get healthy. We don't want him to rush, even though we want to play with him badly. We don't want him to rush. No, I don't have any advice outside of 'Take your time and get right.'"

Nash said the Nets would "incorporate him at any point," whenever Simmons is ready to play again.

"I don't think it changes the outcome necessarily," Nash said of the recent revelation about Simmons' status. "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 little setback. So I still feel optimistic that he can play for us."

Also Monday, the Nets said guard Joe Harris had left ankle ligament reconstruction surgery and is expected to be ready for the start of training camp ahead of the 2022-23 season. Dr. Robert Anderson performed the surgery at Bellin Hospital in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Harris appeared in just 14 games this season, averaging 11.3 points and 4 rebounds a game.