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Shelburne: Ben Simmons ‘weeks’ away from return

Brooklyn Nets v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

If you were expecting to see Ben Simmons soon after the end of the All-Star Break, you should lower your expectations. ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne who has excellent sources in Simmons camp says the newest Net isn’t likely to play for “weeks.”

Here’s what she said on ESPN’s NBA Today Monday…

“Ben Simmons, from what I’m told, is going to really ramp it up this week and see where he’s at at the end of the week, but he’s getting close. I don’t think it’s going to–it’s going to be more like weeks rather than months.”

Shelburne didn’t provide any further details but Nets fans were hoping to see the 25-year-old sooner. One big question, of course, is whether Simmons will be ready for the Nets-Sixers game in Philly on March 10, two weeks away. “I hope so,” he responded when asked about his availability at his introductory press conference.

The Nets haven’t provided any specifics on Simmons return. In fact, Steve Nash’s most recent comments, made prior to the beginning of the break, indicated he’s waiting on the Nets performance team to come up a Simmons plan.

Simmons of course hasn’t played yet this season, having held out in hopes of a trade that would get him out of Philadelphia. That trade took place at the February 10 deadline, sending Simmons to Brooklyn along with Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first rounders for James Harden and Paul Millsap. Simmons had cited mental health issues for his holdout. Brooklyn believes he’ll be ready mentally as soon as he’s ready physically.

In an profile published shortly before the trade deadline, Shelburne wrote that Simmons has been working on his conditioning throughout the hiatus, writing “By all accounts, he is in great physical shape.”

He has worked out separately with his own group of trainers, according to sources close to Simmons. He has organized his own runs with local players. He has lifted weights at a local fitness club that’s open to the general public. He has seen his own therapist but hasn’t shared information about his treatment with the team. He’s living in the Moorestown, New Jersey, house he put up for sale months ago.

Everything he has done has been apart from the Sixers. But now, just under two weeks before the Feb. 10 trade deadline, Ben Simmons is working out at the facility again. There is no ulterior motive. When it’s empty, the Sixers’ practice court is probably the safest place for Simmons. Every other location where he has trained eventually gets leaked. And until he is traded, those close to him say he wants no attention. No cell phone cameras. No crowds.

Simmons availability of course is one of a number of issues the Nets must resolve if they have any hope of salvaging their season including return dates for Kevin Durant and Joe Harris, the status of the city’s vaccination mandate, which along with his Kyrie Irving’s refusal to get the shot, has kept him out of Barclays Center, and how long it’ll take for Goran Dragic to ramp up ... among other things.

Expect some answers to those issues later Tuesday when Sean Marks goes live on the YES Network for a “conversation” with Michael Grady at 6:00 pm ET.