Brooklyn Nets star Ben Simmons has reportedly resumed light on-court workouts with the intention of trying to make a return in time for the playoffs, per Stadium’s Shams Charania. This comes a week after Simmons received an epidural shot in his back to relieve pain from a herniated disk, and there have been reported concerns about his potential to make a return at all this season.
Simmons was originally expected to play in mid-March, but setbacks in his rehab derailed his timeline. Although there’s still not a firm date for Simmons’ return, the notion that he’s doing on-court work moves the needle in the right direction for him making his season debut.
“Clearly, we’d love to have Ben play for us,” Nets coach Steve Nash said on Thursday. “We will hopefully get him back. At the same time, every day, we can’t put our feet in the air because we don’t know when or if it’s going to happen.”
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Getting Simmons back would obviously be ideal for the Nets who traded for him in the deal that sent James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers. Having the team at full strength is always the best option, but given Simmons hasn’t played since June 2021, expecting him to build any sort of real chemistry when the Nets only have five regular-season games remaining is unrealistic. He could certainly help the Nets, especially on the defensive side of the ball, but he will be learning on the fly as Brooklyn tries to secure a spot in the playoffs.
The timing is especially crucial because Brooklyn will most likely have to go through the play-in tournament to punch its ticket to the postseason. The Nets hold the No. 8 spot in the East with a 40-37 record, and are 4.5 games back of the Toronto Raptors for the sixth seed in the East, which is where they would need to get in order to avoid the play in. Trying to fit in Simmons’ return on top of having to fight for one of the final two playoff spots in the East is going to be tough for a Brooklyn team that has had several setbacks already this season. But if Simmons can help elevate this team, then it will make them an even tougher opponent. Brooklyn was already expected to be an incredibly tough draw for anyone in the East with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, and if Simmons returns and is able to find his role with this team, then Brooklyn will be even more formidable if it makes the playoffs.