Report: Target for Ben Simmons’ Nets debut was this Friday, not happening

Ben Simmons at Brooklyn Nets v Philadelphia 76ers
David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

Nets coach Steve Nash said he hopes Ben Simmons – who didn’t play for the 76ers amid mental-health issues this season and hasn’t debuted for Brooklyn due, at least in part, to back problems – will play in the regular season.

But Simmons is behind schedule.

Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Brooklyn Nets star Ben Simmons has remained sidelined with an irritation of the L-4 disc of the lower spine, but there’s hope he can return for a “couple” of regular games prior to the Eastern Conference playoffs, sources told ESPN on Wednesday.

There had been an original target for a return on Friday vs. the Portland Trail Blazers, sources said, but that became impossible in recent weeks based on Simmons’ inability to go more than a consecutive day or two in rehab without pain flaring up in the lower back and resetting his timeline, sources said.

Nash and the Nets can project whatever optimism they want. They’ve lost benefit of the doubt.

Simmons’ lengthy ramp-up is discouraging.

Brooklyn still has championship upside with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving (who has his own availability issues) and Simmons. But they must get on the court together. The sooner the better to develop chemistry, especially with Simmons’ unique style.