Ben Simmons’ back injury will prevent the All-Star from making his Brooklyn Nets debut in the regular season and play-in tournament.
During his media session with reporters on April 4, Nash said he would be “shocked” if Simmons is cleared to play in time for the Nets’ play-in game next week.
“He’s not running. Nash said. “So yeah, I don’t see him [being ready]. I would be shocked. … I mean that’s a big progression just to get here. So he was doing nothing on the floor, but obviously, he clearly started strengthening and doing some light shooting. So super positive on one hand. On the other hand, it’s not like we’re expecting him in the lineup in the next week.”
Simmons is dealing with a herniated disc in his back. The lefty hasn’t played all season, but Nash wouldn’t have a problem with Simmons making his Nets debut in a playoff game.
Nash on Simmons: ‘We Got to Put His Health and Safety First’
Simmons dealt with mental health issues at the beginning of the season when he was on the Philadelphia 76ers. Since the All-NBA defender has been through a lot this year, both mentally and physically, Nash and the Nets won’t rush Simmons at all.
“I think in this situation, we got to put his health and safety first and make sure that we’re certain he’s ready to play and contribute,” Nash said. “And the other part is he hasn’t played basketball, so you don’t know what kind of Ben you get and he hasn’t been in an NBA game for, you know, nine to 10 months.”
Simmons hasn’t played since June 20, 2021. He has career averages of 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists. However, the LSU product can’t shoot jumpers. He’s only made five 3-pointers in his career and shoots a woeful 59.7% from the free-throw line.
If the Nets advance past the play-in tournament and reach the playoffs, Nets fans and reporters will be curious if Simmons will play. Nash, who is in his second season with Brooklyn, doesn’t know if that will be possible.
Can Simmons Play in Playoffs?
Nash isn’t thinking about the playoffs yet since the Nets have to get there first. Simmons, who has playoff averages of 13.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.5 assists, has only been doing strength training and light shooting since getting traded to Brooklyn from Philadelphia.
“We’ll see,” Nash said. “I don’t want to get too far down the road. Like, I don’t want to walk through the next five weeks with you guys and guessing. You guys saw where he is today. He’s doing some increased strengthening, some increased mobility stuff, a little bit of shooting and that’s it.”
The Nets thought Simmons would make his team debut on March 18 against the Portland Trail Blazers, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. However, Simmons’ back didn’t respond the way Brooklyn thought it would to treatment.
It will be interesting to see if Simmons plays at all this season. The Nets need his defense and playmaking skills to make a run at the championship since Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are primarily scorers.