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Sixers’ Ben Simmons to miss significant time with back injury

Ben Simmons won’t return to the Brooklyn Nets until at least January due to a pinched nerve in his lower back.

The Nets said Wednesday that Simmons, who sustained his latest back injury Nov. 6, has shown consistent strength improvement in his back over the past two weeks.

Simmons played in six games before he was hurt and has missed 20 already this season after his last two seasons were cut short because of back problems. He received an epidural injection as part of the planned rehabilitation from this injury.

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

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