The Nets' Ben Simmons stands by the bench during the...

The Nets' Ben Simmons stands by the bench during the first half of Game 3 of an NBA first-round playoff series against the Celtics on Saturday at Barclays Center. Credit: John Minchillo

Could Ben Simmons go the whole year without playing a game?

That appears to be a distinct possibility. The Nets have listed him as “out’’ on their official injury report for Game 4 of their first-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics on Monday night at Barclays Center.

The three-time All-Star, whom the Nets traded for in February after he refused to play for the 76ers, hasn’t played a game for his new team this season because of a herniated disc in his back. He had joined his teammates in practice during the past two weeks, and Game 4 had been circled as his likely debut.

ESPN reported that Simmons, who had gone through 10 days of pain-free workouts, said Sunday that the soreness in his back had returned.

Simmons has not practiced with the first team, but there was hope that his presence might fire up both the team and fans as the Nets, who are down 3-0, attempt to stay alive in the series.

Considering that Simmons hasn’t played a game since the 76ers’ Game 7 loss to Atlanta in the playoffs last season, inserting him into a playoff game for his debut never seemed like the wisest plan to many.

After practice Sunday, before Simmons’ status was known, coach Steve Nash was asked if it is fair to bring him back in this kind of situation.

“That’s a good question,” Nash said. “Part of the decision has to be Ben’s. I think that he has to be all-in. And so that is a part of the equation, that’s fair. It’s not all on Ben. It’s not like, ‘Ah, come on, you didn’t play, Ben.’ This is a unique situation. He’s never played with his teammates. And to go into a playoff situation after a long period of inactivity and injury is not straightforward.”

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