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Ben Simmons won’t play in FIBA World Cup, Nets upbeat about his Brooklyn prospects

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Ben Simmons will not play for Australia in the FIBA World Cup this August, per league sources. But the Nets remain positive about a return to form next season.

The Nets and their 6’11” guard/forward have decided that cutting short his rehab from back and nerve issues by three weeks would not be worth the additional reps Simmons would get playing in Asia starting with training camp the first week of August and running through September 10. Sean Marks had publicly targeted September 1 as the date when he and the Nets performance team had hoped he’d be ready to go for next season.

Basketball Australia, that country’s FIBA governing body... confirmed the NetsDaily report late Thursday afternoon, early morning Friday in Australia.

The decision was made earlier this week. Simmons has been training and working out at the University of Miami in recent weeks with Royce O’Neale and David Duke Jr., among others.

Simmons had said in May that he hoped to be able to join the Boomers this season but he, along with Australia head coach Brian Goorjian and team captain Patty Mills, had emphasized that getting back to his previous form by the opening of the NBA season was his top priority.

At the dedication of a mural in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park last Saturday, Mills had been non-committal about Simmons joining the Boomers, pointing out that he had heard Simmons was doing well, but regaining his health was at the top of his off-season list.

“It still feels like weeks away yet, but from all accords and from what I’ve heard, he’s looking after his body, and getting into his shape and healthy that everyone wants him and needs him to be,” said Mills of someone whose family he’s known since Simmons was a child.

“So first and foremost for him it’s getting to that part where he can be Ben again. Obviously, a full off-season of rehab, of healthy workouts both in the gym and on the court is what he’s looking at.”

Goorjian had also said that even if Simmons couldn’t play in the World Cup, he was hopeful he’d be ready for the Paris Olympics next summer. Indeed, that now has become Simmons goal.

The Nets are reportedly happy with Simmons recovery. One league source that that Simmons is in as good a physical and mental state as he has been since joining the team in March 2022, the big return in the trade that sent James Harden to Philadelphia. Simmons had pushed for a trade from the 76ers in 2021-22, holding out between the start of the season and the deadline. The Nets had hoped he could play at the end of 2022 but back woes intervened and he underwent microdiscectomy surgery for a herniated L-4 disk on May 5, 2022.

Last season, he played in only 42 games, not looking like the same player who had been an All-NBA selection, a three-time All-Star and runner-up in Defensive Player of the Year balloting in Philly. He last played on February 15, just days after the deadline that trades that saw Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving leave the Nets and four new starters, led by Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson. He was officially shut down on March 25.

With Simmons out, the Nets still have four players from this past year’s roster on FIBA national teams: Mills on Australia, Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson on Team USA and Yuta Watanabe on the Japanese national team.