Steve Nash says it's on Ben Simmons to say 'I'm ready' for return vs. Celtics

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Steve Nash seems to place ball in Ben Simmons' court regarding return vs. C's originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Wednesday marks 10 months since Ben Simmons last appeared in an NBA game.

If he's going to appear in another one anytime soon, Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash seemed to indicate Wednesday that it will be up to Simmons if and when he suits up against the Boston Celtics in the first round of the NBA postseason.

"There’s no other way than him to say, ‘I’m ready,’ especially after an absence this long," Nash said. “So whenever he is ready, it’s gonna have to be on him to say, ‘I feel comfortable, I feel ready to go, I want to play, I want to contribute.'"

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Game 4 between the Nets and Celtics next Monday at Barclays Center reportedly is a "realistic target" for Simmons' return/debut. Brooklyn acquired Simmons from the Philadelphia 76ers on Feb. 10 in a blockbuster deal involving James Harden, but thanks in part to a back injury, he's yet to play.

"We can’t push him places when you have been out this long," Nash said. "It’s gotta be something where he’s definitely comfortable and ready to play."

Putting Simmons back into the lineup at home would seemingly be preferable to throwing him into the inferno in Boston, though his return would still be on the backburner to the ongoing Kyrie Irving drama.

Still, what if Game 4 is too little, too late for the Nets? Or, what if the return of Simmons saps Brooklyn of any potential momentum it could gain between now and then? He's never played a minute with his current teammates.

Nash said that while it will be a "collective decision" between the Nets training staff and Simmons on whether or not he's good to go, it's ultimately the call of the three-time All-Star and two-time All-Defensive team player.

"This has been a prolonged absence," Nash said. "So I think it’s more about they [Simmons and the performance staff] are in this together trying to find a resolution, a time for him to come back where he is safe to play and well enough to contribute."

Note: Games 2-6 of the Brooklyn Nets-Boston Celtics series will be aired on NBC Sports Boston and can also be streamed on NBCSportsBoston.com or with the MyTeams App, which you can download below.