Ben Simmons timeline still unclear but won’t play vs. 76ers

Ben Simmons
Ben Simmons applauds for his teammates in the third quarter against the Washington Wizards at Barclays Center.
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Simmons will be in Philadelphia when the Nets travel to the City of Brotherly love this week, but he won’t be on the court.

Simmons did not make the trip to Boston on Sunday with the Nets for their game against the Celtics, however, Nets head coach Steve Nash said that he would rejoin the team for the rest of the trip. The Nets travel to Charlotte and Philadelphia later this week.

“He is not on the trip right now. He’s going to join us though,” Nash said.

The 25-year-old, who was acquired by the Nets from Philadelphia on Feb. 10, still has yet to suit up for the team and has had his reconditioning impacted by back stiffness that has slowed down his return to the court. Thursday will mark the first time this season that Simmons will be in Wells Fargo Center in front of Sixers, who did not take too kindly to the way his time in Philadelphia ended.

Simmons had said that he had hoped to be back in time to play against his former team, but that seems to be out the window. The Nets have remained guard with information surrounding player returns and Simmons has been no exception to that.

Nash did not have any new update on Simmons.

“I assume just the performance team clearing his steps,” Nash said when asked about the next steps for Simmons. “That’s above my pay grade as far as using their expertise to determine what levels of his return he’s at. I can’t give you anything concrete because that’s a technical question for the medical staff.”

The Nets are running short on time when it comes to acclimating Simmons into their system before the postseason. Brooklyn is down to 17 games following Sunday’s matchup with the Celtics and they only have an even smaller window of game where Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are both on the floor.

The Nets are also desperately trying to avoid having to go through the play-in round in order to make the playoffs.

“There’s tremendous urgency around the Nets to get Ben Simmons on the court, get him incorporated and playing with this team,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported prior to the broadcast of Sunday’s game. “That back problem has been an issue for him since he’s tried to start ramping up. He’s essentially really just done individual work at their facility. They’re hoping by the end of this week he’ll be able to do more.”

Nash tried to paint a little calmer picture when he spoke with reporters on Sunday. The Nets head coach seemed to feel that the acclimation process wouldn’t be too complicated for Simmons.

“I think there’s two sides to it. One it’s very tricky because he hasn’t played with our guys and he is unique,” Nash said. “On the other hand, I think he’s a great fit for our group. So I don’t think we overthink it. I think we allow him to be himself and clearly, we will think it and try to put him in a position to succeed. But I think the way we play, the way we want to play, the vision for this group and the way he complements the rest of the group, I don’t think it’s going to be overly mechanical a process, you know where you’re constantly trying to put square pegs in round holes.

“I think this suits us, this fits us well, and Ben is special because of all the things that he does well. Not one thing, many, many things he does well on the basketball court. I think that really suits our group. … we just can’t wait to get him back he’s going to change everything for us.”

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