After a long off-season that included several surgeries for key players, the Nets will enter training camp at HSS Training Facility Tuesday not completely healthy. Although there was one question mark, T.J. Warren, the health news to come out of the annual Nets Media Day was generally promising.
Here’s a summary:
There wasn’t a player at Nets Media Day that looked more than ready to get on the hardwood than Ben Simmons. Simmons, who did not play a single game with Brooklyn — or Philadelphia — last season after being dealt in the blockbuster James Harden trade at the deadline, put all doubts to rest Monday morning.
“Physically, I feel great. I’m ready to go,” Simmons said brimming with confidence.
When the 26-year-old was asked whether he is on track to open the new season with Brooklyn, Simmons responded, ‘that's the goal. That’s the plan.’ He is fully cleared for basketball activities at training camp and is expected to be a full participant throughout the six-day camp in Sunset Park. Simmons underwent successful microdiscectomy surgery at Cedar-Sinai Marina Del Rey Hospital in Los Angeles on May 5 to address a herniated disc in his back.
“I’m glad I got it done. It was much needed. I don’t think people really realize where I was at. That day I was supposed to play Game 4, I woke up on the floor and couldn’t move,” said Simmons recalling the night before Game 4 of the 2021 Eastern Conference First Round series against the Celtics. “I could barely walk. I’m glad to be in this situation. Rehabbed myself and put myself in a position where I can compete now. I’m excited.”
Simmons will also enter training camp and the season with the right headspace. After dealing with mental health troubles throughout last season dating back to the 2020-21 season, he explained how he’s put himself in the situation to take the court with a clear mind.
“Definitely,” said Simmons about if he’s in the right headspace to compete. “I put myself in a position. I’ve been working on myself this past year to get back on the floor and play at a high level. I deserve to take this opportunity by the horns and get back on the floor. I’m excited to team up with these guys and these coaches, and I’m looking forward to it.”
After an injury-troubled season — a season limited to 14 games — Joe Harris will begin the new season fully healthy.
“Yeah, fully cleared,” Harris stated. “I was fully cleared right around a month ago now.”
For the first time in his NBA career, Harris battled serious injury troubles. After undergoing his first successful arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle on November 29, Harris suffered a serious setback in his ankle rehab in the second half of the regular season, shortly before the NBA Playoffs. After trying to avoid a second operation, the 6’6” wing was left with no choice but to undergo the operation, ruling him out indefinitely for the then-upcoming playoffs. He underwent the second procedure — successful left ankle ligament reconstruction surgery — on March 21.
“Initially, I was really trying to come back and play but what have been some options that were presented to me from the initial injury was that there was a potential that I was going to have a bigger procedure at a later point in time,” said Harris discussing his second left ankle surgery. “Instead of having the bigger procedure earlier in the year where the season is already over, I wanted to give myself a chance to come back and play. It didn’t end up working out, and I ended up having the bigger procedure anyways. I was still just trying to make an effort to see if I can come back and contribute at any point in time of the season; even if it was months after the initial procedure, I was just trying to get myself back to a point where I can help out a little bit but I was never able to get back to that point.”
After battling through ankle soreness throughout the second half of the regular season into the first-round series sweep defeat to the Celtics, getting surgery to correct the soreness was always on Seth Curry’s mind. He battled through the pain, having to rest a couple of games later. Shortly into the offseason, the guard underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle on May 9.
Curry has spent the offseason rehabbing the ankle and although he will enter camp not fully cleared, the light at the end of his tunnel is not too far away for the sharpshooter.
“I’m not fully cleared yet. I’m almost there. I’ll do what I can in training camp. I’ll probably say I’m 85, 90 percent of the way to where I want to be in order to get on the floor and playing well and where I need to play,” Curry said. “It’s going the right way.”
The guard has yet to be cleared for five-on-five runs but has accomplished every other benchmark in his rehab.
“I’m doing workouts. I’m doing everything basically outside of playing five-on-five,” said Curry on the remainder of his rehab. “I’m pretty close.”
Coming off a tough torn Achillies rehab, Edmond Sumner hasn’t had the easiest of roads to get back on the hardwood.
Sumner, who explained the Nets were the first team to have interest in signing him as a free agent, will enter training camp healthy and fully cleared. The combo guard has been fully cleared for nearly a month and is thrilled about his newest opportunity in the black and white.
“I got cleared fully maybe three or four weeks ago. I’ve been playing five-on-five for about three or four weeks now,” Sumner said. “You get the nerves and the excitement. You miss basketball for a year. You can’t duplicate playing no matter how hard I’ve been working out throughout this whole year, so that rhythm and timing stuff. I’m excited man. I’m so excited for this opportunity to come out here and really compete again.”
For Sumner, who was nearing the end of his achillies rehab when he signed with Brooklyn, the reputation of Brooklyn’s medical staff played a role in inking a deal with the Nets. The guard explained how watching Kevin Durant’s achillies rehab from afar ... and knowing the doctors added a layer of comfort in his new opportunity.
“I’ve watched him [Kevin Durant] come back. I’ve seen how good of a transition he had. We knew the medical staff over here. [I] knew the doctors, talking with my agent. You see great results. My agent and I were confident going to the same doctors and stuff like that, seeing how the Nets handled his [Durant] rehab and stuff,” Sumner stated. “We were confident. That definitely played a big part in that.”
Dr. Martin O’Malley was the lead surgeon on both Durant and Sumner’s procedures.
Out of all the Nets who provided health updates at Monday’s annual media day, T.J. Warren’s health status certainly was a surprise.
Warren, who missed the entirety of the 2021-22 season and played only four games the season before with a stress fracture in his foot, is not fully cleared but says he feels healthy. The wing, who is a low risk, high reward free agent signing for Brooklyn, explained that he’s ‘taking it easy, taking it slow’ with his lingering foot injury.
“My foot is feeling good. It’s healed. I’m just taking it easy, taking it slow,” Warren said. “[I’m] just making sure everything else is working and healthy. It’s been so long. Right now, I’m healed but I’m not cleared. Just taking it easy right now, making sure. It’s been so long just want to make sure everything else is ready to take the load. Just not my foot. Everything else, so.
Although Warren won’t enter training camp, he too does see the light at the end of the tunnel he’s been manifesting for years. The new Net praised confidence that his long awaited return will happen this year in a Nets uniform.
“It’s been a long process. I’ve been patient throughout the whole process. I’m definitely seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” Warren added. “Definietly been watching a lot of basketball the past two years, a lot of people asking me a lot of questions: when are you coming back? Now I can be fully confident and say it’s going to be this season, and definitely soon. Definitely excited about that.”
In another bit of a surprise, the Nets did not sign Donovan Williams, the 6’6” UNLV wing who played well in the Summer League. Williams who advertised his connection with the Nets could wind up getting a gig with the Long Island Nets, but for now, he’s a free agent ... and the Nets have an open roster spot. Later Monday, the Nets signed RaiQuan Gray to their final roster spot.