Ben Simmons has yet to play for the Brooklyn Nets since being acquired from the Philadelphia 76ers in the blockbuster James Harden trade. The three-time All-Star is still getting mentally and physically ready to play again for the first time since June 20, 2021.
On February 26, Nets head coach Steve Nash told reporters that Simmons is dealing with soreness in his back. The 2017-18 Rookie of the Year had a flare-up during his ramp-up process.
“It’s not like an injury,” Nash said. “It’s just kind of like as he’s returning to play, his back’s flared up a little. It’s not like a long-term thing. He hasn’t played a game since June. I think that’s just a part of his process of returning to play. As you ramp up, you’re a little bit susceptible to certain things, as you would be with muscle soreness or tightness.”
The Nets have 20 games left in the regular season. They are currently in eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings and would be in the play-in tournament if they don’t get up to the sixth seed or higher. Two-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant is still out with a knee injury, so time is running out on the Nets to rise in the standings.
Brooklyn would ideally like to see Simmons, Durant, Kyrie Irving, Seth Curry and Andre Drummond take the floor together before the regular season ends. Nash revealed that Durant could return to action in the first or second week of March, while one of the most prominent NBA insiders gave a Simmons update on The Pat McAfee Show.
Nets Have ‘Optimism’ Simmons Will Play Before Regular Season Ends
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Nets have “optimism” that Simmons will return from his back injury before the regular season ends.
“He had a flare-up with his back, I’m told, during his ramp-up process,” Charania said. “And so now, he’s gonna need to strengthen that back area before he can make his return to the floor. The back is tricky and so Ben Simmons, it could take him a few weeks, it could take him a week. You never know with the back and so I think there is hope and optimism that at some point before the regular season he’s gonna be back on the floor, but in the meantime, he’s gonna have to rehab that back.”
Simmons has career averages of 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists. He’s one of the best passers and defenders in the NBA and the Nets can’t wait to pair him with two superstar scorers in Durant and Irving.
Nash on Simmons: ‘He Is an Amazing Basketball Player’
Nash called Simmons an “amazing basketball player” when the Nets-Sixers trade went through. The Hall of Famer knows his new floor general can’t shoot jumpers, but he’s not overly concerned about it.
“Ben does a thousand things on the basketball court,” Nash said after the Nets acquired Simmons. “Shooting is not one of them that I’m dying to see. He is an amazing basketball player and that’s without shooting the ball. There’s not really a conversation there. If he gets better at shooting, great, but he’s an All-Star basketball player. He has incredible potential to affect games with all the other things he does.”
It will be fascinating to see how the Nets look with Durant, Irving and Simmons on the court together. Brooklyn fans are certainly hopeful that the Big Three can lead the franchise to a championship.