Nets' Ben Simmons Has No Timetable for Injury Return Despite Rumors, Steve Nash Says

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVApril 10, 2022

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 29: Ben Simmons #10 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on from the bench against the Detroit Pistons at Barclays Center on March 29, 2022 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Brooklyn Nets defeated the Detroit Pistons 130-123. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

After a report Sunday from Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium that there was "optimism" Brooklyn Nets power forward Ben Simmons might be able to return for the first round of the playoffs as he recovers from a back injury, head coach Steve Nash put a kibosh on such rumors.

"There's no timetable for his return right now," Nash told reporters. "He's clearly got some markers to hit."

Nash added that Simmons hasn't begun to run or condition in his recovery process yet.

Charania reported that "Simmons has been ramping up his workload and is expected to continue doing so," adding that he and the team were "managing his back issue and have been on same page."

But Nash told reporters Simmons wasn't doing anything at full speed and all of his running was on an AlterG treadmill.

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

Working on the weekend. <a href="https://t.co/VSOY7Ivf0e">pic.twitter.com/VSOY7Ivf0e</a>

Kristian Winfield #NFTAllStar @Krisplashed

Ben Simmons has visibly progressed from his lower back injury. This is the most we’ve seen him move or work on the court since he arrived in Brooklyn. <a href="https://t.co/QrDFMUoV0f">pic.twitter.com/QrDFMUoV0f</a>

Nick Friedell @NickFriedell

For the first time since joining the Nets — Simmons was out here pregame at Barclays taking some shots. He appears to be moving a little more, but the Nets still have no idea when he might be able to play.

Simmons, 25, has yet to play this season. After asking the Philadelphia 76ers for a trade in the summer that didn't transpire, he remained away from the team, citing mental health issues. He was ultimately traded to the Brooklyn Nets in February in the deal that sent James Harden back to Philly.

But Simmons has yet to play for the Nets, as a herniated disc in his lower back has kept him sidelined. He received an epidural in March, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

The fact that Simmons will have missed the entire regular season and play-in tournament makes it hard to imagine he'll play a major role for the Nets in the postseason, even if he is able to return. Coming in cold in such important games is a big ask.

The last time Simmons played, he passed up an open dunk in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, a game and series the Sixers ultimately lost to the Atlanta Hawks. It's hard to imagine Simmons wouldn't be feeling the pressure if the next time he played were in a crucial playoff game a year later, with teammates he's mostly never shared a court with in his career.

Especially when you consider that Simmons is a pretty unique player who is a fantastic passer and defensive player but seriously hurts a team's spacing in the half-court offense. Will the Nets be able to pair him with a true center like Andre Drummond without allowing teams to pack the paint?

Austin Krell @NBAKrell

The Nets, on paper, are better off with Ben Simmons playing than they are without him. But, seems pretty counter-intuitive to expect such an idiosyncratic player to have a seamless integration into your rotation as he debuts in the playoffs.

Suffice to say, the Nets have very little reason to rush him back, given all of the factors above. And even if he does return, it's likely going to be in a reserve role. First things first, of course—the Nets have to make it through the play-in. Then they can worry about potentially working Simmons into the swing of things.