Following the All-Star break, the Brooklyn Nets will host Boston at Barclays Center on Feb. 24. Ben Simmons won’t be on the court for that game although according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, the 25-year-old is ‘weeks’ away from his season debut.
Simmons requested a trade from Philadelphia during the offseason and that finally happened on Feb. 10. He made it clear more than once that he wouldn’t play in a game for the Sixers again and stepped away from the team due to his mental health.
During his introductory press conference with Brooklyn, Simmons said that he’s in a much better place and that he hopes to be on the court when the Nets play in Wells Fargo Center on Mar. 10.
He’s begun the ramp-up process of returning to the court, although there’s no set date for his debut. On Monday’s edition of NBA Today, Shelburne revealed an update on Simmons’ status.
Ben Simmons is ‘weeks’ away from making his Brooklyn Nets debut.
After discussing Goran Dragic signing with Brooklyn, Shelburne said:
"“Ben Simmons, from what I’m told, is going to really ramp it up this week and see where he’s at at the end of the week. But he’s getting close. I think it’s going to be more like weeks rather than months.”"
The Nets have 23 regular-season games remaining until the playoffs, which will begin in less than two months. The immediate discourse after the trade didn’t make it seem like it’d take months for Simmons to be mentally and physically ready to play again.
And above all else, Simmons’ word is what matters. Based on what he said in his presser, it seems like he’s headed in the right direction. However, we won’t know anything for sure until Simmons is listed as active.
Even when he does return, he’ll not only have to work through conditioning issues but he’ll also have to get used to playing with a new team.
On Feb. 1, Shelburne released a piece that went into detail about Simmons’ physical shape. She wrote (subscription required):
"“He has worked out separately with his own group of trainers, according to sources close to Simmons. He has organized his own runs with local players. He has lifted weights at a local fitness club that’s open to the general public.”"
At the time, it didn’t seem like Simmons would be traded this year but he was preparing nonetheless for the chance that he’d have an opportunity to play elsewhere.
That opportunity has come. In the coming weeks, Simmons is expected to enter the starting lineup alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Brooklyn’s Big Three looks a lot different than it did two weeks ago but that isn’t a bad thing.
In the midst of uncertainty, there’s one thing that’s for sure and it’s that Simmons has the chance to reach his full potential with the Nets.