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Nets now hope Ben Simmons can appear in 'a couple' games before playoffs begin, per report

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It has been more than a month since Ben Simmons landed with the Brooklyn Nets, and his path back to the court is hazier than ever.

The Nets now hope the former Philadelphia 76ers guard, currently out with a back ailment, will be able to return for a "couple" of games before the Eastern Conference playoffs begin, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne.

Simmons' previous target for a return had been Friday against the Portland Trail Blazers, but, per ESPN, Simmons is still unable to work more than a consecutive day or two in rehab without pain flaring up in his lower back. His issue has been diagnosed as irritation of the L-4 disc in the lower spine.

Nets head coach Steve Nash told reporters on Wednesday that Simmons received an epidural shot earlier this week. He reportedly continues to work on his back and build up toward solo basketball activities.

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - MARCH 10:  Ben Simmons #10 of the Brooklyn Nets walks on the court at halftime against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center on March 10, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Brooklyn Nets defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 129-100. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Ben Simmons is still out for the Brooklyn Nets. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Ben Simmons in limbo yet again

Rather than return this week, the earliest the Nets apparently hope to have Simmons back is an April 9 game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, their penultimate game of the season. Even if Simmons hits that date, it's hard to see him being 100 percent for the playoffs given the intangible nature of back injuries.

This whole situation probably isn't what the Nets had in mind when they pulled the trigger on the deal that sent James Harden and others to Philadelphia in exchange for Simmons and Seth Curry last month.

Up to that point, Simmons had not appeared in a game all season, but still took part in a shootaround with his new team. The back issues came up later, however, and now Simmons' season seems to be once again in the limbo he thought he escaped with the trade.

Simmons figures to fit the Nets' roster quite well whenever he can play, but the team is running out of time before it needs both him and Kyrie Irving playing at 100 percent in each game.