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Woj: Regular season return for Ben Simmons ‘not realistic’

Milwaukee Bucks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Forget any return to action by Ben Simmons before the NBA playoffs ... if the Nets get there, Adrian Wojnarowski reported Sunday night on Sports Center.

“Certainly not the regular season, Woj said when asked if Simmons would be back to help the Nets defense. “There are four games left in Brooklyn and he’s only doing light shooting on the floor. He’s trying to work himself back from that back injury.

“The Nets are looking at a play-in and the idea that Ben Simmons could be ready in nine days when the play-in starts is not realistic. Brooklyn’s going to have to get into the playoffs before there can be any real conversation about Simmons ramping up to return and play for the first time in 11 months.”

Simmons last played in June for the 76ers vs. the Hawks in the post-season. After that, he sat out the regular season through the trade deadline, citing mental health issues being fined nearly $20 million by the 76ers. Simmons joined the Nets after the February 10 trade, but because of his herniated disc diagnosis he has yet to play.

Woj’s projection is different from what Shams Charania said two days ago...

“Nets three-time All-Star Ben Simmons has resumed light on-court workouts, sources tell me” said Shams. “And the hope remains that he will be able to ramp-up in time for the playoffs. The Nets and Simmons have worked together on his back issues which flared up when he had previously aiming for a mid-March return. And now with the Nets jockeying for position in the Eastern Conference, a Simmons return makes the team’s ceiling even greater for a potentially deeper run.”

Then, Saturday night, Steve Nash tried to offer more clarity on the “light on court workout” report.

The Nets head coach said his 25-year-old star is not moving around or hasn’t begun 1-on-1 or 1-on-0 workouts yet.

“He’s doing some light shooting. He’s been on the court a little bit the past couple of days. Nothing dynamic yet,” Nash said. “He’s not even moving around a lot. Just some light shooting.”

That of course is a long way from 1-on-1 to 3-on-3 to 5-on-5 and the requisite three intensity workout the performance and medical teams want to see before clearing him.

Simmons is recovering from a lower back injury suffered sometime after the February 10 trade. It’s since been diagnosed as a herniated disc. His rehab included an epidural injection two weeks ago. That has reportedly helped him feel a lot better, permitting him to travel with the team on their trips to Miami and Atlanta.

The NBA playoffs, which would like pit the Nets against either the No. 1 or No. 2 seed, begin April 16. That gives the Nets and Simmons two weeks to get him ready.