Brooklyn Nets, Ben Simmons Return, Playoffs, Eastern Conference

Australian NBA star Ben Simmons has returned to training as he eyes a return to the field ahead of the upcoming playoffs.

Simmons has yet to play a game this season due to a back injury.

Nets head coach Steve Nash revealed last week that Simmons, who was traded in February from Philadelphia to Brooklyn, suffered from a herniated disc in his back.

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But a comeback could finally be coming soon according to respected NBA journalist Shams Charania of Athleticism, who revealed on Saturday that the three-time All-Star has returned to coaching duties with the goal of being ready in time for the basketball playoffs.

“Ben Simmons has resumed light training sessions on the pitch, they tell me,” Charania said.

“Hope remains that he will be able to prepare for a potential return in time for the playoffs.

“The Nets and Simmons have worked together to deal with his back issues that erupted when he previously targeted a mid-March return, and now with the Nets vying for Eastern Conference playoff positions, a Simmons’ return makes the team cap even more for a potentially deeper run.”

The hope for the Nets will be to have Simmons ready in time at least April 10, when their regular season ends.

With the NBA playoffs only starting on April 17, Brooklyn’s hopes of reaching the playoffs are a bit complicated.

Sitting in eighth place with five games left in the NBA Eastern Conference, the Nets are destined to finish only in seventh place, which means they will have to qualify for the playoffs via playoff games.

Teams that finish seventh through 10th in both conferences must advance in playoff games before locking in a playoff berth, making it crucial for the Nets to have Simmons ready in time.

The Aussie was traded to Brooklyn after a lengthy trade showdown with the 76ers.

In what was considered the biggest trade of the season, the Nets received Simmons, three-point specialist Seth Curry, center Andre Drummond and several first-round picks, while the 76ers acquired the former MVP James Harden.

Simmons is currently in the second year of a five-year contract worth nearly $240 million.

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