Ben Simmons is out until January with nerve irritation in his back

Ben Simmons has missed 20 games this season after his last 2 seasons were cut short due to back pain.

NEW YORK (AP) — Ben Simmons won’t return to the Brooklyn Nets until at least January because of a pinched nerve in his lower back.

The Nets said Wednesday that Simmons, who suffered a back injury on Nov. 6, has been steadily improving strength in his back over the past two weeks. However, they added that he is still only doing personal court work and his status will be updated again in approximately two weeks.

Simmons played in six games before he got hurt and has already missed 20 games this season after his last two seasons were cut short due to a back injury. The No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft received an epidural as part of his planned rehabilitation from the injury.

In other injury news, the Nets said Dennis Smith Jr., who has missed the past six games with a back sprain, has been cleared for full basketball action and will be listed as questionable for their game against Denver on Friday.

Lonnie Walker IV, out the past eight games with a left hamstring strain, is expected to advance to 5-on-5 play in the coming days with hopes of returning to the lineup next week.

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