The Nets again played without Ben Simmons or without much clarity, at least released publicly, about Simmons’ knee.
Simmons, who had been listed as questionable, missed his second straight game with left knee soreness during Monday’s 121-104 victory over the Lakers at Barclays Center, where he joined Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Anthony Davis as standouts unable to play.
Head coach Jacque Vaughn said he hopes Simmons will be ready for Wednesday’s game in Boston and is “showing signs of progress, which is good.”
Simmons exited Thursday’s loss to the Pistons in the third quarter while playing in a game for a second consecutive day. He also sustained knee soreness in late November while playing on the back end of a back-to-back, and he proceeded to miss the next four games.
It is possible the workload caught up with Simmons, who underwent offseason back surgery and has said he feels the procedure is related to the knee issues. But Vaughn said, as of Monday, he had not talked with Simmons about the cause of the soreness.
“We haven’t gotten to specifics,” Vaughn said. “I think everything’s right now been based around getting him back to healthy, to an ability to play as soon as possible.”
It is unclear whether Simmons has needed an MRI exam. Vaughn reiterated that ideally he wants all of his players available for every game. He said he has not talked with Simmons about potentially sitting one game when the Nets have games on two straight days.
“I think our conversations [with Simmons] will be real and what can we handle from a management and load perspective, cumulative loads across the board over the course of games,” Vaughn said of Simmons, who did not play last season with mental health concerns and the back injury. “So all those questions will be on the table in order for us to keep our group healthy and whole as we trend toward the end of the year.”
Previous to his setback, Simmons had been struggling to accept a larger offensive load with Durant injured. In seven games after Durant sprained his MCL, Simmons averaged six points and 8.3 assists while showing the same hesitation in looking for his offensive game. The Nets lost five of those seven.
T.J. Warren missed a second straight game with a left shin contusion. Vaughn said the wing also is hopeful to play Wednesday and is progressing.
James sat out with left ankle soreness on the front end of a back-to-back, with the Lakers playing at the Garden on Tuesday.
“Just managing his foot, experiencing some really significant soreness, and so going with the idea to kind of ease off him a little bit,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said.