Nets star Ben Simmons will undergo back surgery on Thursday, adding yet another chapter to the saga that’s been his delayed debut in Brooklyn.
The Nets announced Wednesday that Simmons will have a microdiscectomy to alleviate the pain associated with the herniated disc he developed in his lower back after his arrival in Brooklyn — via the Feb. 10 James Harden trade with the Philadelphia 76ers.
“After consultation with multiple back specialists, it has been determined that the best course of action for Ben’s long-term health is for him to undergo back surgery,” the Nets announced in a statement.
The Hospital for Special Surgery defines a microdiscectomy as “a surgical procedure for the relief of pain and other symptoms that occur when a herniated disc in the spine presses on an adjacent nerve root. During the operation, the surgeon frees the nerve by removing small fragments of disc, bone and ligament.”
Simmons’ recovery timeline is three-to-four months, according to ESPN, which would clear him ahead of Nets’ training camp in September.
Simmons received an epidural to alleviate the pain in his lower back on March 13, which helped him progress to four-on-four workouts with contact. The Nets said Simmons’ back pain flared up once again the morning before Game 4 of the Nets’ Eastern Conference first-round playoff series against the Celtics.
There is a history of past and active NBA players with back issues who underwent the microdiscectomy procedure, like: Lakers’ big man Dwight Howard, Nuggets’ forward Michael Porter Jr., ex-Nets’ big man Brook Lopez. Former NBA point guard and current Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr’s microdiscectomy procedure led to further complications of his lower back his.
Simmons, a three-time All-Star, is also the third player in recent Nets history to have an injury setback during the season. James Harden injured his hamstring last season, then had a setback while ramping up. Joe Harris had ankle surgery in November, then required a second surgery after re-injuring his ankle while attempting to make a comeback.
Simmons first injured his back in February 2020, when he suffered a nerve impingement as a member of the 76ers. He may have missed the remainder of the season had the NBA not gone on hiatus after COVID-19 reached pandemic status.
The procedure may put Simmons’ back issues squarely in the past. “While there is some discomfort associated with the surgical incision, many patients experience rapid relief of the pain caused by the herniated disc,” according to the Hospital for Special Surgery.