At this point, does anyone expect Ben Simmons to be back during the playoffs?
While Steve Nash has ruled Simmons out of the play-in game or games, the Brooklyn Nets will not fully close the door on a playoff return. However, that return is not likely and Brian Lewis at the New York Post notes time is running out on a comeback. Here is what a source told Lewis:
“It looks like he’s doing a little bit better… You know, it’s just a timing thing. The problem is the season is running out. But he’s doing [more]. He’s starting to do a little bit more movement, AlterG (an anti-gravity treadmill), stuff like that. So … we’ve got to be patient with it. I don’t think he’ll need a procedure, though. But you’ve just got to be patient with it.”
Patience may be difficult. If the current Eastern Conference seedings hold, the Nets will face the Cavaliers in the 7/8 play-in game next week, and if they win that they go up against the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. That would be a tough matchup for the Nets without the defense of Simmons, and he doesn’t sound close to a return (don’t let last year’s Bucks/Nets fool you, this year the series will not be as tight).
Simmons has not played a minute of NBA basketball this season, citing mental-health issues while not suiting up for the 76ers, then due to a back issue after being traded to the Nets. Is Brooklyn going to throw a player who hasn’t set foot on an NBA court this season straight into the deep end of the playoffs against the defending champs — especially a guy who struggled with pressure last postseason?
Don’t expect to see Simmons these playoffs. But to keep the player happy, the Nets will not publically rule him out, either.