Sports

Nets’ Ben Simmons ‘feeling relief’ after back surgery

A week after Ben Simmons had back surgery, Nets general manager Sean Marks said the former All-Star is “feeling relief.” 

Simmons didn’t play a second this season, holding out in Philadelphia while citing mental health issues, then suffering from a herniated L-4 disk after he was traded to the Nets on Feb. 10. He had microdiscectomy surgery last Thursday, performed by Dr. Robert Watkins IV at Cedars-Sinai Marina Del Rey Hospital in Los Angeles. 

“Ben had a tricky buildup, to be quite frank,” Marks said Wednesday. “He got here and there was a setback obviously as he went through his ramp up and we saw him on the court. We saw him participating in 3-on-3 and 5-on-5 games with the stay-ready group. We were hoping, just like Ben was, he was going to be out there. 

“It got to be too much and we had another follow-up MRI and we could see the herniation had expanded. At that point, there was really nothing but surgery that was going to fix this. … From the communications I’ve had with him multiple times since the surgery, he’s feeling relief already and feeling great. He knows that, it goes back to that five months, he has a big buildup to get ready and contribute.” 

Ben Simmons has ‘relief’ after his offseason back surgery.
Corey Sipkin for the Gist Vile

It was the first time the Nets acknowledged that Simmons’ herniation had not only remained but worsened, however he’s expected to be fully back within three months and ready to hit the floor before camp in September. 

At least physically. 

Simmons — who has seen a therapist and cited mental health issues in Philadelphia — appeared to lack trust in the 76ers. After he and agent Rich Paul met with Marks last month, The Post asked exactly how the Nets can help get and keep Simmons on the floor both physically and mentally. 

“Regarding Ben post-surgery, I don’t want to speak for him but I can sense there’s a relief. There’s a new lease on life, when you’re able to take a problem and say that should be fixed and move that out of here and now it’s on to the rest,” said Marks, hesitant to discuss the touchy topic of Simmons’ mental health. 

“We’re doing everything possible we can to get him around our group, that’s the key. He needs to be in here, smell the gym again, around his friends, around his family and to participate in this and let us help him build a culture together, build up together, build him back up. Because as Steve [Nash] alluded to, he’s a big part of this. He plugs a lot of holes that we think we potentially have.”

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