Ben Simmons rehab and recovery from back surgery and subsequent nerve impingement has been a bit of a state secret. Until Tuesday, the little we know has come from Instagram images of the 6’11” point forward working with weights or posing with teammates as he did with birthday boy Royce O’Neale on a yacht off Miami on Monday...
Beyond Instagram, we’ve read about how the head coach of the Australian national team welcomes the prospect of him playing for the “Boomers” in the FIBA World Cup which starts up in late August throughout Asia.
But on Tuesday, Simmons posted two images that indicate he has moved from rehab/recovery to getting back on the court.
Nobody is saying much if anything about Simmons progress but it would appear that he’s been cleared to get back on the court, and Alex Schiffer reported Wednesday that he, O’Neale and David Duke Jr. have been working out together in Miami. That’s got to be good news for the Nets ... and Basketball Australia. Of course, Sixers fans can and will warn that this is nothing new, that they had seen videos of him draining 3-pointers in past summers (something he has only done three times in his NBA career.)
That said, there has been a steady stream of good news over the last month regarding Simmons situation. In early May, Brian Lewis reported that Simmons would not need a second back surgery, a fear that many at HSS Training Center had after he was officially shut down on March 23 following a month of bench appearances, but no play. He and the Nets trade deadline acquisitions played only three games together.
In April, Bernie Lee, Simmons new agent told Lewis that he expects Simmons to be physically prepared for training camp in early October and Sean Marks has said he expects Simmons to be back in form by September 1.
Lewis also reported that Simmons attitude has improved.
“The group around Ben has noticed a complete change in Ben’s focus and mentality [through] this rehab and how he has attacked it and engaged with everything,” the source told The Post, “and there is a lot of belief in him being able to return to his All-Star form.”
That of course would be a big deal. Marks has said the team’s top priority is getting Simmons back to his pre-injury, pre-holdout form when he was a three-time All-Star, two-time first team All-Defense and a one-time All-NBA selection. Not to mention that the Nets owe Simmons $78.2 million over the next two years.
The next big marker for Simmons will likely be the first week of August when the Boomers gather Down Under for training camp in preparation for the World Cup. Will he be there? What will he look like? Australia will have “friendlies” — exhibition games— in Melbourne in mid-August then, fly to Japan for the opening of Cup play on August 25. Assuming the Boomers get to the Final Four — and they’re expected to — Simmons could see action in 11 games in a little less than a month, then head back to Brooklyn for the opening of NBA training camp the last week of September.
Meanwhile, in Australia, Simmons’ hometown paper, Melbourne Herald-Sun, reported Wednesday Basketball Australia officials have given Simmons a deadline to declare if he’s interested in World Cup but doesn’t provide a date other “early June.”
There’s still two months to go in his rehab and recovery before anyone is likely to see him play other than on social media and a lot can happen. And yes, until proven otherwise, skepticism is warranted. So far, however, so good.