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Lewis: Ben Simmons expected back Saturday vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Ben Simmons injury deemed minor, Nets expect him back vs. his old team.

Brooklyn Nets v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Ben Simmons is expected back on the job Saturday night in Philadelphia, the Brooklyn Nets confident his injury is not serious, reports Brian Lewis.

Sources told The Post that Simmons is expected to be available for Saturday’s tilt in Philadelphia against his former 76ers squad after his late scratch from Wednesday’s loss to Phoenix raised alarms of another lengthy layoff.

After a great comeback from nerve impingement vs. the Jazz on Monday — 10 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds in 18 minutes and 16 seconds — Simmons missed Wednesday’s game with a knee contusion, suffered during an awkward fall trying to block Talen Horton-Tucker’s layup attempt late in the game. That, of course, raised alarms, particularly among fans, that he would once again be relegated to the Nets bench where he’d been since November 6, the sixth game of the season.

But as Lewis reports, this time is not like last time.

Simmons had an MRI exam Wednesday morning which revealed no damage. The 27-year-old suffered modest swelling in the knee, but it didn’t require draining. A team source said he took an anti-inflammatory which kicked in, allowing him to put himself through all the necessary paces.

By sitting out Wednesday, Simmons will have five days off.

The Nets coaching staff and front office will be looking closely at Simmons not just because they believe he can help the Nets this season but because they are trying to figure out their future. Reporters from Lewis to Adrian Wojnarowski to Shams Charania have written the Nets looking at a variety of point guards — D’Angelo Russell and Dejounte Murray among them — as the trade deadline approaches Thursday. Simmons is firm in describing himself as a point guard and showed Monday that when healthy he is one of the best.

The problem is that he is unreliable. As Lewis notes:

Simmons missed the entire 2021-22 season due to mental health woes and back issues. He had microdiscectomy surgery at Cedars-Sinai Marina Del Rey Hospital in Los Angeles on May 5, 2022, but spent last season either struggling or sidelined altogether.

The nerve impingement shut him down last season in mid-February. Simmons has logged just 49 appearances for Brooklyn since arriving, seven this season.

The other issue is his contract, what to do with it. Simmons makes $39.7 million this season and $40.3 million next year. Solid performances the rest of the season would help in that regard.