Well, that escalated quickly ... unless of course you’re taking the long view. After two months of waiting, Ben Simmons is finally practicing, not doing light workouts or 0-on-1, but 4-on-4 ... a matter of days after Steve Nash said that the 25-year-old All-Star acquired on February 10 still had more milestones to pass on his way back to play at the NBA level.
It was Nash on Tuesday who revealed that Simmons had made a big jump in his ramp-up over the past few days. Moreover, Nash said he came out of the experience feeling good.
“He’s probably not going to do 5-on-5 because we don’t have 10 guys,” Nash said of Simmons next step. “It will probably be 4-on-4 again — so it’s really trying to put him in an environment where he can start to build up and see if he can take contact, see if he can run the floor, make cuts, rebound, defend, all those things. He’s got to have time on the floor to do, to see if he can physically adapt, and that process is only just beginning.”
Now, Nets fans will have to wait, much as they did before the City of New York removed its mandate permitting Kyrie Irving to play full-time. Nash said that Simmons would not play in Game 2 Wednesday but was non-committal about Game 3 — at Barclays Center — on Saturday, calling the process “unique.” Word is that Sean Marks, as GM, will have final word on Simmons status after consulting with the team’s medical, performance and coaching staffs.
The news came after Tuesday’s practice on the Harvard University campus in a series of tweets from beat writers ...
Steve Nash says Ben Simmons has been cleared for contact. He got some 4-on-4 work in yesterday. Nash said he came through it well.— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) April 19, 2022
Nash said Simmons would not play in Game 2. When asked about possibility of Game 3, Nash was non-committal — saying this is such a unique situation with how much time Simmons has missed they are waiting to see how his back responds over next few days before deciding next steps.— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) April 19, 2022
Nash noted, however, that it’s going to be a process, with daily checks on how Simmons is responding...
Ben Simmons did 4 on 4 yesterday and scripting—“5 on 0, running thru the plays”—today. Yesterday was Simmons’ first day of contact when he played with some teammates. Asked how Simmons’ back reacted to the contact, Nash said: “So far so good. He managed yesterdays activity well.”— Kristian Winfield #NFTAllStar (@Krisplashed) April 19, 2022
Steve Nash on Ben Simmons: "Yesterday was his first day of contact. Yesterday was his first day of contact, played with some teammates. He's making progress, but there's no real update. We'll just see how he responds & see if he's able to do more contact tomorrow.” #Nets #Celtics— Brian Lewis (@NYPost_Lewis) April 19, 2022
The writers also got glimpses of Simmons working post-practice with Nets shooting coach Kyle Korver...
Ben Simmons getting some work in with Kyle Korver after Nets practice on Harvard’s campus pic.twitter.com/oCACgxFQKH— Kristian Winfield #NFTAllStar (@Krisplashed) April 19, 2022
And the other two members of the Nets new “Big Three”...
First time we’ve seen this — KD, Kyrie and Simmons all getting some shots up at the same time after practice. pic.twitter.com/n1QZLeXXBt— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) April 19, 2022
As well as working alone...
Simmons didn’t speak — injured players are exempt from media access rules. Expect more news Wednesday after the Nets gauge just how well Simmons responded.
The 6’11” Simmons hasn’t played since last June when the 76ers lost to the Hawks in the Eastern Conference semi-finals. Many 76ers fans explicitly blamed Simmons for the loss , being particularly incensed by his failure to dunk late in Game 7 which would have put him on the line where he had repeatedly failed to connect. After that, Simmons told the 76ers he wanted out and refused to play, citing mental health issues.
After the February 10 trade that centered on him and James Harden, Simmons had a “flare-up” of recurring back issues, forcing him to the sidelines. After the administration of an epidural the weekend of March 15 — along with rest and rehab — Simmons pain localized then dissipated. Then, in the week or so, local and national writers reporters that he was pain-free. That set up Monday’s 4-on-4 work.
- Nets’ Ben Simmons makes big strides in race to play versus Celtics - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Ben Simmons practices with contact for first time as a Net - Steve Popper - Newsday
- Ben Simmons plays 4-on-4 with contact; Game 3 return possible - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Brooklyn Nets’ Ben Simmons cleared for contact but return still unclear - Nick Friedell - ESPN
- Nets’ Ben Simmons has been cleared for contact ahead of Game 2 - Scott Thompson - SNY
- Ben Simmons injury update: Nets star cleared for contact in practice, Steve Nash unsure when he’ll make debut - Jasmyn Wimbish & James Herbert - CBS Sports