Ben Simmons has not set foot on the court for an NBA game this season, first citing mental-health issues while not suiting up for the 76ers, then due to a back issue as he ramped up to play for the Nets.
The Nets have released information on Simmons only in drips here and there, leaving the door open for Simmons to return because that’s what player-friendly organizations do. However, on Monday coach Steve Nash closed that door a little, saying he didn’t see how Simmons could be ready for next week’s play-in games. Via Nick Friedell of ESPN.
“He’s not running, so yeah,” Nash said. “I don’t see him [being ready]. I would be shocked…
“I mean that’s a big progression just to get here,” Nash said. “So he was doing nothing on the floor. But obviously he clearly started strengthening and doing some light shooting. So super positive on one hand; on the other hand, it’s not like … we’re expecting him in the lineup in the next week.”
Nash simply states the obvious, but it was the smart move to end the speculation and daily questions he (and Nets players) get about Simmons. The discussion could become a distraction.
Even if he gets healthy during this playoff run — if the Nets even go on one — would it be wise to take Simmons from not playing at all to throwing him in the most intense, physical, and pressure-filled part of the season?
Simmons is exactly what the Nets need to round out their roster on paper. He is the kind of long, versatile, high-level defender they lack, plus he is an elite passer, particularly in transition. If he accepts a role as the guy who pushes the pace and is a secondary shot creator in the halfcourt, he could thrive in Brooklyn.
But Simmons is not a simple plug-and-play guy, his unique game means his teammates would need to get used to him and adjust their games. Throwing him in cold for a playoff series — especially a guy who struggled with pressure last postseason — seems like a recipe for trouble.
Don’t bet on seeing Simmons at any point this postseason, but you won’t see him for sure in the play-in games.