Ben Simmons will not make his Brooklyn Nets debut on Monday night, meaning his team debut will wait until next season if the Nets don't avoid a first-round sweep to the Boston Celtics.
The 25-year-old is not yet ready to play for the first time since the Atlanta Hawks eliminated his Philadelphia 76ers from the playoffs last June. However, he's working with the team on a road back.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Simmons and agent Rich Paul met with general manager Sean Marks and other organizational leaders on Monday to discuss "the physical and mental hurdles" Simmons must overcome before playing.
"Simmons reiterated desire to play for Nets and sides talked on how they’ll work together to try and get there," Wojnarowski wrote in a Twitter post. "Both groups believe Simmons had two good weeks of physical ramp-up thru Sunday, but ultimately realized there are still mental and physical hurdles that need addressing."
He added that the Nets believe Simmons has made progress since they acquired him from the 76ers, but they "recognize there’s more work to do."
Last Friday, Wojnarowski said Simmons planned to play Game 4 "barring a setback." However, he's since been ruled out for Monday night's potential elimination game after waking up with back soreness Sunday morning. Per Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports, Nets head coach Steve Nash said on Monday that he "wasn’t really expecting him to play."
Simmons cited mental health issues for sitting out in Philadelphia. After the trade, he suffered a back injury while preparing for his return.
Even if the Nets prolong their season, it now seems less likely Simmons will suit up to make his team debut in a must-win postseason scenario. Getting ready for a fresh start next season might be the best course of action for both sides.