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Ben Simmons return could come as early as Monday

Ben Simmons returning sooner rather than later

Brooklyn Nets v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Catherine Steenkeste/NBAE via Getty Images

The Brooklyn Nets are preparing for another Ben Simmons takeoff. Multiple reports suggest that Simmons will practice with the Long Island Nets this weekend. Barring no setbacks, he could return as early as Monday when Brooklyn welcomes in the Utah Jazz.

Ian Begley of SNY broke the news.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski backed Begley’s report with his own later in the afternoon. He also mentioned “optimism” on Simmons returning Monday. Jacque Vaughn spoke about Simmons’s return before tonight’s contest vs the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“He’s still progressing,” Vaughn said. “Great to see him get a chance to play a little ‘stay ready’ today. He will, Saturday, play hopefully with Long Island. That’ll be another step forward and get some more lively bodies around him, then see what that looks like next week. Hopefully, he continues to progress and you’ll him soon.

“Hopefully we can take advantage of that, being at home,” said Vaughn about Brooklyn’s next stretch of home games being targeted for Simmons to return.”If we continue to have no setbacks, and which has been the case so far, hopefully we do see him next week.”

Simmons hasn’t suited up for the Nets since their November 6 game vs the Milwaukee Bucks. They have a 3-3 record with him this season and are 14-23 without. He’s also still under contract for another year, with the Nets set to increase his year’s salary to $40.3 Million during the 2023-24 season.

“It’s a positive step and I’m looking forward to when we have our group whole, as any coach wants, the opportunity to coach the entire group,” Vaughn added. “Ben is a big piece of who we are. Big piece of how we started the season, how we played, how we tried to form an identity. Like I’ve always talked about, this the ecosystem and when pieces of the ecosystem are missing, then other areas are affected, and it’s been the exact case for our group, so I’m looking forward to him being back on the floor so hopefully this week’s continues to go in a positive direction and we see him next week.”

Earlier in the week, Lee boldly predicted that Simmons will be a game-changer. “He’s going to fix their issues,” he said in a back-and-forth Twitter conversation with fans and media.

Simmons isn’t the only Net set to give the team some much needed backup. The team called up rookie Noah Clowney from Long Island on Wednesday. While they could send him back down at any time, Vaughn expressed some optimism that the Alabama product could get some burn in the coming days.

“That was a big piece of ‘stay ready’ play today a little bit, to get those guys around us and to get them to Brooklyn,” Vaughn said when asked about Clowney. “They’ll stay with us tonight and also on Saturday as well.”

Clowney is averaging 14.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game on 47/29/81 splits on Long Island. Since he played for Brooklyn vs. the Bucks on December 29, Clowney has had three 25+ point games. He’s the fourth youngest player on an NBA contract this season.