Shams: Ben Simmons 'Very, Very Confident' He Can Return for Nets' 1st-Round Series

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIApril 12, 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)
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Brooklyn Nets point guard Ben Simmons, who is currently out with a herniated disk in his back, could return for the first round of the postseason.

Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic reported the news on the Pat McAfee Show on Tuesday:

WrestleMania Pat McAfee @PatMcAfeeShow

"If the Nets win tonight they play Boston this weekend.. I think games 1 &amp; 2 is too quick but after that I'd look for Ben Simmons to be back" ~<a href="https://twitter.com/ShamsCharania?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ShamsCharania</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PMSLive?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PMSLive</a> <a href="https://t.co/bii2yHMyo1">pic.twitter.com/bii2yHMyo1</a>

The Nets have to qualify for the postseason first. They are scheduled to host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday at Barclays Center in the play-in tournament. A win would vault the Nets into a first-round playoff series with the Boston Celtics. That matchup would begin Sunday.

If the Nets lose, then they will host the winner of the Atlanta Hawks vs. Charlotte Hornets play-in on Friday, with the winner taking on the Miami Heat in a first-round series that also starts Sunday.

Simmons has not played all season. He started the year with the Philadelphia 76ers, who selected the former LSU star with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft. However, Simmons made a trade request in August and didn't report to the team.

The three-time All-Star eventually changed course and reported for the tail end of the preseason, but he eventually left the team again and never played for Philadelphia. Per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Simmons told 76ers brass that he was not mentally ready to play to his expectations.

On Feb. 10, the 76ers traded Simmons to the Nets in a blockbuster deal that notably sent James Harden to Philadelphia.

Simmons' back injury has held him out, but it appears he's close to ready to return. Although it's unclear how much Simmons could contribute after being out all season, his return would still be a welcome sight for a Nets team that would either play the scorching-hot Celtics (25-6 in their last 31 games) or the top-seeded Heat should they advance from the play-in tournament.

Simmons, 25, averaged 14.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game during his last full NBA season (2020-21).