Ben Simmons return won’t come until playoffs, Nets’ Nash confirms

Ben Simmons
Brooklyn Nets injured guard Ben Simmons watches from the bench during the fourth quarter against the Utah Jazz at Barclays Center.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

A day doesn’t seem to go by without some sort of update on when Ben Simmons may or may not return. This week has already been no different.

Nets head coach Steve Nash confirmed after practice on Monday that Ben Simmons’ return won’t come until after the regular season and play-in round. The point guard did do more work shooting and using resistance bands on Monday as well, Nash told reporters at the HSS Training Center in downtown Brooklyn.

“I mean that’s a big progression just to get here,” Nash said, according to ESPN. “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.”

On Sunday night ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that any potential return for the 25-year-old would not come until after the play-in round. And the idea that Simmons could play in the regular season was not realistic, according to the famed NBA insider.

“Certainly not the regular season,” Wojnarowski said during an appearance on Sportscenter Sunday night. “They’ve got four games left in Brooklyn and he’s only doing light shooting on the floor. He’s trying to work himself back from that back injury. The Nets are looking at a play-in and the idea that Ben Simmons could be ready in nine days when the play-in starts is not realistic.

“Brooklyn’s going to have to get out of that play-in and to get into the playoffs before there can be any real conversation about Ben Simmons ramping up to return and actually play for the first time in almost 11 months.”

The report came after Nash had confirmed over the weekend that Simmons was doing light shooting work.

Even with the comments from the Nets head coach, seeing Simmons on the court if Brooklyn made it to the first round of the playoffs didn’t seem like a sure thing. Nash told reporters that he didn’t want to look too far ahead when it came things with Simmons.

The Nets have to go through the play-in round for them to even make the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

“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.”

The Simmons saga has been ongoing since he arrived in Brooklyn via the blockbuster trade that sent James Harden to Philadelphia. The point guard hasn’t played since last season after sitting out this year with the Sixers to work on his mental health.

After the trade, the Nets had hoped to have him back on the floor by mid-March, but he suffered a back injury during the ramp-up process which turned out to be a herniated disc. Simmons received an epidural two weeks ago and it has helped him deal with the injury.

The 25-year-old has started traveling with the team again on their recent trips to Miami and Atlanta, which were both small but positive signs for the superstar.

It had been reported on Friday by The Athletic’s Shams Charania that Simmons had begun light on-court work and that there was hope that he could return in time for the playoffs. It was unclear at the time if that meant the play-in round or the NBA playoffs, but it appears the answer is a bit more clear now.

Brooklyn has been very selective with the information that has been officially released by the organization on Simmons’ return.