Australian NBA star Ben Simmons has resumed training as he eyes a return to court ahead of the upcoming playoffs.
Simmons is yet to play a game this season due to a back injury.
Nets head coach Steve Nash revealed last week that Simmons, who in February was traded from Philadelphia to Brooklyn, has been dealing with a herniated disc in his back.
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But a return could finally come soon according to respected NBA reporter Shams Charania of The Athletic, who on Saturday revealed the three-time All-Star had resumed training duties with a goal to be ready in time for playoffs basketball.
“Ben Simmons has resumed light on-court workouts sources tell me,” Charania said.
“The hope remains that he will be able to ramp up for a potential return in time for the playoffs.
“The Nets and Simmons have worked together on managing his back issues which flared up when he was previously aiming for a mid-March return, and now with the Nets jocking for playoff positions in the Eastern Conference, a Simmons return makes the team’s ceiling even greater for a potentially deeper run.”
The hope for the Nets will be to have Simmons ready in time by at least April 10 when their regular season comes to an end.
While the NBA playoffs aren’t commencing until April 17, Brooklyn’s hopes of reaching the post-season are a little complicated.
Sitting in the eighth spot with five games remaining in the NBA’s Eastern Conference, the Nets are destined to finish no better than seventh, meaning they will need to qualify for the playoffs via the play-in games.
Teams who finish in seventh through to 10th in both conferences must advance through the play-in games before locking in a playoffs spot, making it crucial for the Nets to have Simmons ready in time.
The Australian was traded to Brooklyn after a lengthy trade standoff with the 76ers.
In what’s been viewed as the biggest trade of the season, the Nets received Simmons, three-point specialist Seth Curry, centre Andre Drummond and multiple first-round picks, while the 76ers acquired former MVP James Harden.
Simmons is currently in the second year of a five-year contract worth close to $240 million.
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