Nets’ Ben Simmons cleared for contact; return from back injury still unknown

Ben Simmons was cleared to resume contact on Monday, but his return for the Brooklyn Nets is still unknown.

Simmons participated in a four-on-four workout with some of his teammates on Wednesday, which marks the closest he’s been to making his debut with the Nets after being traded there by the Philadelphia 76ers.

Though that workout went “well,” Nets coach Steve Nash said he won’t play in Game 2 of their opening-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday.

"He's making progress," Nash said, via ESPN. "We'll just see how he responds and see if he's able to do more contact [Wednesday]."

Simmons hasn’t played since last season, and has been battling a back injury since he arrived in Brooklyn. The Nets held out hope that he’d be able to play at least at some point in the regular season, but that never happened.

Nash said Simmons will likely go through four-on-four workouts again in the next few days to “build up and see if he can take contact” before any decision is made. With his timeline and extended break from basketball, though, Nash isn’t really sure how to judge Simmons’ return.

"I wouldn't be able to say anything about that because I'm not even sure how he's going to get through these weeks," Nash said, via ESPN. "We have to also consider it's a nine-month absence or whatever it is, so it's not just like he had a six-week absence, so I think this is a pretty unique scenario. It's not as linear as maybe the other kind of in-season injuries."

Simmons’ return would undoubtedly be a welcome sight for the Nets, who trail the Celtics 1-0 in their opening-round series following their win in the play-in tournament.

“I didn’t hear any setbacks,” Kevin Durant said of Simmons, via ESPN. "That's pretty much what I'm looking for [when] somebody on our team goes through anything while they're playing in the stay-ready groups or pre-practice groups if anybody got injured or anything. So I haven't heard ... he's probably progressing pretty well so we'll see."

The Nets' Ben Simmons
Ben Simmons hasn’t made his Nets debut due to a lingering back injury, but the team is still holding out hope he can do so in the playoffs. (Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)