Nets guard Ben Simmons warms up before game against the...

Nets guard Ben Simmons warms up before game against the Rockets at Barclays Center on Saturday. Credit: Noah K. Murray

Ben Simmons could return to action Monday against the Jazz after practicing on Long Island, coach Jacque Vaughn said Saturday.

“He completed the entire session and a high likelihood of him playing vs. Utah,” Vaughn said before the Nets’ 106-104 win over the Rockets.

Simmons has been out since Nov. 6 with a nerve impingement in his back but made significant progress this month. Saturday against the Rockets was the 38th consecutive game — 39th overall — that he’s missed.

The Nets built their team primarily around Simmons’ ability to push the tempo and create shots. In his absence, they’ve struggled with pace, defense and shooting and entered Saturday having lost 17 of their previous 21 games.

For Simmons, there’s relief in playing again but also urgency in wanting to have an immediate impact for a team that he feels needs it.

“I want to come in and win games. We haven’t been winning lately,” he said Saturday. “So it’s one of those things where we have to get back on track. I’m looking forward to just playing my role and helping this team win.”

Whitehead done 

Vaughn also announced that rookie Dariq Whitehead will have season-ending surgery Monday after being diagnosed with a left shin stress reaction earlier this month.

Whitehead played in two regular-season games this season and four games in the G League while on a minutes restriction.

It’s the third surgery for Whitehead since the summer of 2022. He had a procedure that August for a fracture in his right foot that delayed his freshman year at Duke and a follow-up procedure last June ahead of the NBA Draft.

After his Nets debut on Nov. 25, Whitehead said he was still dealing with shin splints as he rehabbed from injury. This latest setback  added to a difficult first season for the 19-year-old.

“It’s been very frustrating just not being able to prove yourself and show the fans what I’m capable of,” he told Newsday this month. “But it’s also a part of my growth.”

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