On Wednesday afternoon, the Brooklyn Nets released a medical update concerning the status of Ben Simmons, Lonnie Walker IV, and Dennis Smith Jr., all of whom missed the entirety of Brooklyn’s five-game West Coast swing.
The update did not reveal any shocking news:
Prior to Brooklyn’s battle with the New York Knicks on Wednesday night, Head Coach Jacque Vaughn spoke about his three injured guards.
Simmons, who has been out since November 6 with a nerve impingement in his lower back, was the main topic of discussion. Vaughn gave little more than what’s become a bi-weekly reminder that Simmons is indeed still a Brooklyn Net: “You know, we’re doing this two-week thing just to give you some sort of semblance of being able to communicate with you...he’s just continued to improve strength-wise, which is the biggest thing for him, which has allowed him to continue to do things on the floor,” said Vaughn.
Strength was the buzzword for this Simmons update, with Vaughn inching into specifics by saying, “You know, the big part of this is the strength part of it. And so, as he continues to gain strength, that will allow additional bodies to be around him. And 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.”
Despite the lack of competitive basketball for Simmons, his head coach is still outwardly confident that the Aussie can become a productive player for the Nets. Furthermore, Simmons, who started in all six of his appearance this season, is still engaged with the team’s performance.
“And so, all the numbers are pointing towards the strength being regained, so that’s a good thing,” said Vaughn. “There’s some empirical data behind it. But for me, my conversation with Ben is still about the game, and so I’ll talk to him about the road trip, some of the things that happened on the road trip. So my interaction is still based around the game knowing and hoping and believing that he will return and fit right back in.”
Vaughn also addressed the statuses of Smith Jr. (back) and Lonnie Walker IV (knee). The head coach confirmed the team’s medical update, as Nets fans can expect to see the two athletic guards return to the rotation sooner than later: “Lonnie is probably after Dennis as far as returning to the court...So getting [Dennis] some ability to play against other guys, a little stay ready to see how he responds, but hopefully we’ll see him at the end of this week, and then hopefully Lonnie the following week, but both trending towards that direction.”
In short: Smith’s return is imminent, Walker’s is days, not weeks away, and Simmons remains a mystery. Such wraps up a busy day of injury updates for the Brooklyn Nets, as they prepare to take on the Knicks in this season’s first edition of the cross-town rivalry.