Report: Ben Simmons likely to miss start of playoffs

Milwaukee Bucks v Brooklyn Nets
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The Nets have expressed optimism about Ben Simmons playing this season despite a back injury.

But Brooklyn also expressed optimism about Kyrie Irving and James Harden signing contract extensions and Irving meeting New York’s vaccine mandate before the season. Nets coach Steve Nash, who has delivered positive and hopeful assessments of Simmons’ recovery, said Brooklyn wouldn’t trade Harden.

Joe Vardon of The Athletic:

Ben Simmons is not close to playing for the Nets. He is not likely to be ready for the start of the playoffs, I was told Thursday, as he’s still trying to recover from a recurring back injury that required an injection last month.

The Nets, of course, must still qualify for the playoffs. They’re headed toward the play-in tournament (April 12-15). If advancing, Brooklyn would begin the playoffs April 16 or 17.

In some respects, getting that far will be more difficult without Simmons. A versatile/effective defender and sharp passer, he definitely raises Brooklyn’s ceiling. He could fit nicely as a pace pusher and connector, and his defense would be especially welcome on this team.

But Simmons’ unique style of play makes it especially important for he and his new teammates to develop chemistry with each other. Inserting him into the lineup cold be detrimental. He crumbled last postseason, and he cited mental-health issues in not playing all season for the 76ers. The Nets are already dangerous with Kevin Durant and Irving.

Maybe as dangerous as they’ll get this year.