Can something be confusing as well as calculated?
Well, of course! As the 6th century B.C. Chinese military theorist said, “The whole secret lies in confusing the enemy, so that he cannot fathom our real intent.”
The latest news on Ben Simmons seems to fall into that category. You can call it the “whole secret” or gamesmanship, but it appears the Nets want to confuse the enemy Celtics on the three-time All-Star’s availability in the first round of the NBA playoffs. If? When? How many minutes? Even Where?
On Saturday, Adrian Wojnarowski wrote of how Simmons sudden improvement is about to take its next — and so far most significant — step this week.
So far, his workouts have been limited to 1-on-0, but that’s about to change. Hope remains Simmons could make his debut later in the Nets-Celtics series. More on NBA Countdown on ESPN at noon ET. https://t.co/4CESkrPilE— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 16, 2022
The ESPN reporter added, “even if it’s just 10 to 15 minutes a game, sources said.”
Not long after, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report tweeted something similar.
Sources: There’s growing optimism that Ben Simmons could make his Nets and season debut as early as Game 3 against Boston, at Barclays Center next Saturday.— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) April 16, 2022
All the breaking news wasn’t the most dramatic news of the day on Simmons who has been out all year and suffered what was ultimately diagnosed as a herniated disc in late February.
It was this, Simmons message to the media at Saturday shootaround, as best captured by Nick Friedell, Woj’s colleague at ESPN...
Ben Simmons just looked over at me and said — “Make sure you get this. Then dunked — and said “There you go.” pic.twitter.com/Kn8pE7NOlQ— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) April 16, 2022
“There you go,” indeed. It’s not even a 1-on-1 let alone 3-on-3 or 5-on-5 against the “stay ready” gang, but it’s another sign of progress. But Steve Nash once again downplayed things in the face of constant reports from the likes of Woj, Shams and Windy.
“He’s still on his individual program,” said Nash in the media scrum following both the Woj report and Simmons dunk. “Still working through his rehab. 1-0 stuff”
Has he started running? a reporter asked.
“He does some running, but like I said the other day, no sprinting. Honestly, I don’t see what he’s doing, but I know he’s not sprinting.”
But is there progress?
”I think clearly he’s improving, but I have no idea if he’s getting close to play or not.”
Indeed, as previously reported, Simmons has spent most of his time with the performance and medical teams, not the coaching staff.
He has been part of team meetings and strategy sessions even on-court walk throughs, as he was Saturday morning.
Simmons getting film work in with Nash and the rest of the group after practice. pic.twitter.com/1MLx00jpoy— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) April 16, 2022
The Nets are reportedly willing to let Simmons fly if he’s ready in the post-season, starting with the Celtics series, or if they feel he won’t be ready, wait till next season. They are, if anything, conservative, in their health assessments. Could there also be division between the Nets and Simmons’ people on his readiness to play? Who knows but someone is leaking a lot of specifics and on a nearly daily basis.
Indeed, a Brian Lewis tweeted after talking to someone close to Simmons, he still has a long way to go...
Ben Simmons still has yet to get cleared for contact work. A source close to Simmons: "There’s nothing new there...The next step is to get him cleared for one-on-one stuff, see him bang to see how the back holds up.” #Nets— Brian Lewis (@NYPost_Lewis) April 16, 2022
Lewis also quoted the source saying that the Nets and Simmons have been lucky in one regard. The first round series between Brooklyn and Boston is stretched out compared to others.
Game 4 won’t be until April 25 at Barclays Center, a day or two later than every other series’ Game 4. The source close to Simmons said that extra time would be a big help in the All-Star’s race against time to return from a herniated L-4 disk.
“The NBA did us a huge favor,” the source told The Post. “There’s like 10 days in there [to recover].”
And for the record, Game 3 is April 23, a week from today, at Barclays Center. Game 4 is April 25. It, too, will be at Barclays Center.
- Sources: Ben Simmons to start practicing with Brooklyn Nets after battling back injury - Adrian Wojnarowski - ESPN
- NBA playoff schedule did Nets ‘huge’ Ben Simmons return favor - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Ben Simmons expected to start practicing with Nets in coming week - Peter Botte - New York Post
- Nets’ Ben Simmons appears to slowly be preparing to play vs. Celtics - Barbara Barker - Newsday