Ben Simmons workout gives Nets some hope he can play in postseason

For the first time since joining the Nets, Ben Simmons took part in pregame warm-ups at Barclays Center. And while he watched the regular-season finale from the bench, there is at least some hope he can debut in the postseason, but there are several steps to go before he gets there.

“Who knows? There’s no timetable for his return right now. So, he’s clearly got some markers to hit,” said Steve Nash. “He’s not even going full speed on the court or on the post. So the timetable is not set. We’re just going to continue to coach him and play as a group here and Ben will continue to work hard and rehabbing. And whenever the time comes, we’ll be grateful.”

After a league source had told The Post that Simmons’ herniated L-4 disc had improved enough to start doing more movement and even get on an AlterG (anti-gravity) treadmill, he was on the court shooting before Sunday’s win over Indiana.

Ben Simmons works out before the Nets win over the Pacers on Sunday.
Corey Sipkin

“I think he does AlterG, which is obviously non-full-weight bearing,” Nash said. “I wouldn’t say there’s any conditioning running. He’s been doing some movement, but nothing full speed yet.”

Before the game, both ESPN and the Athletic reported that there was hope that if Simmons continues to improve and reduce the pain in his back, he could return for at least part-time duty in the first round. But Nash tempered expectations.

“He’s doing a little bit of movement. Still, one-on-zero stuff. He still has a lot of milestones to reach. But it’s positive; at least he’s moving around a little bit,” said Nash, adding Simmons has kept up morale. “He looks really positive and happy and encouraged and is just working away at his rehab.”

Kevin Durant (20 points, 10 rebounds, career-high 16 assists) had a career-high fourth triple-double of the season in the 134-126 win over the Pacers.

Goran Dragic (health and safety protocols) is back in Brooklyn and has been feeling better for the past four or five days. Returning to the lineup for Tuesday’s play-in game against Cleveland is still up in the air.

“It totally depends on if he gets his way out of the protocols,” said Nash. “If he gets his way out of the protocols, he could play on Tuesday. But we have to see if he gets himself out. It’s possible.”

The Nets converted rookie Kessler Edwards’ two-way deal to a standard NBA contract Sunday, making him eligible for both the play-in and the playoffs.

“Just a long year of hard work and just pushing through all the ups and downs that I went through and I think I’ve been kind of rewarded by it now by being able to play in the playoffs,” said Edwards. “So I’m very happy about that.”

Kessler Edwards
Kessler Edwards
Getty Images

The deal runs through the rest of this season with a team option for next year, according to Hooopshype. League rules limited Brooklyn to inking Edwards to a two-year, minimum deal. The move also kept the 21-year-old from becoming a restricted free agent this summer.

To convert the Edwards deal, the Nets waived James Johnson, 35, the only unhappy part of the situation.

“Yeah it definitely is,” said Edwards. “It sucks it had to be that way, especially somebody like James Johnson, someone who I really looked up to and he instilled a lot of confidence in me to be able to get to this point. So yeah, definitely is.”

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