Ben Simmons is no longer in Philadelphia, which means we don’t have a never-ending trade saga to keep up with anymore and can instead focus on the Sixers’ new James Harden era. Now, Simmons’ status and performance is simply about the strength of his new team in Brooklyn. Where will the Nets end up in the Eastern Conference standings, and how can they match up against the Sixers? Both in terms of regular season matchups and, most importantly, a potential playoff series.
The latest update from ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne is that Simmons is getting close to his return. There’s still no confirmation on exactly when Simmons will return to play as he finishes preparing himself both mentally and physically, but Shelburne said on NBA Today on Monday that it’s a matter of weeks, not months.
“Ben Simmons, from what I’m told, is going to really ramp it up this week and see where he’s at, at the end of the week,” Shelburne said. “But he’s getting close. It’s going to be more like weeks rather than months.”
Of course, an estimate of “weeks” is far from a specific timeline, but it looks like Simmons’ return isn’t too far off, now that he’s in a new situation that he wants to be a part of.
For the Sixers, this could mean Simmons is available in a couple of weeks by March 10, when they have their first, highly-anticipated game against the new-look Nets.
How will Harden and maybe Simmons play against their old teams? If Simmons does play, what will the atmosphere be like in Wells Fargo Center (i.e. how loud will the boos be)? How will these revamped offenses match up against each other? The other question for this game, and how the Nets can compete in general moving forward, is whether Kevin Durant will be back. He’s been out since suffering a sprained left MCL on Jan. 15, with the Nets providing a timetable of four to six weeks before he’d be re-evaluated.
As the Sixers get ready to resume their season and figure things out with Harden after the All-Star break, it’s safe to say there’s a lot to look forward to.