Ben Simmons calls out a play during the first half of...

Ben Simmons calls out a play during the first half of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at State Farm Arena on June 18, 2021 in Atlanta Credit: Getty Images/Kevin C. Cox

Ben Simmons will get his second chance in Brooklyn. He’ll try to erase some of his bad memories with the 76ers by joining Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in their quest to win a ring. And maybe, just maybe, he’ll be able to change some of the narrative around his spectacular, if erratic, career.

When all that will start, however, is another story.

Steve Nash said there is no timetable for Simmons to play, adding that he’ll need a ramp-up and clearance from the Nets’ performance team after a long period of inactivity. Simmons, who was unhappy in Philadelphia and asked to be traded, hasn’t played since Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals last season and has been tending to mental health issues as he looks to make his return to the court.

Monday, though, appeared to be a decent start. Four days after being obtained in the blockbuster trade that sent James Harden to Philadelphia, Simmons was at the Nets’ shootaround getting assessed, Nash said. The choice of when to play him will be "a joint decision."

"We have to put him in a position to have the necessary conditioning underneath him and to feel safe with it, and he also has to feel confident and comfortable when the time comes, so whenever that is, hopefully there’s a great partnership in those decisions," Nash said before the Nets beat the Kings, 109-85.

"I think he’s in a pretty good place mentally. And, you know, we work with him here in conjunction with his physical ramp-up to make sure he’s comfortable on and off the floor. I think he’ll be ready to play mentally when he’s physically ready."

When that time does come, Simmons will be part of a new Brooklyn Big 3 — one that Nash seems confident can stem the recent nosedive and take on a brutal second-half schedule.

Still, the load will be heavy: As of now, Irving can play only in road games, and there’s no timetable for Durant’s return from an MCL sprain.

The 6-11 Simmons is far from the shooter Harden is, but he’ll bring a necessary element to the Nets’ court presence — an elite defender who can finish around the rim and aid the team in transition. In short, a piece that should jibe nicely with the Nets’ other talents.

"I think Ben is such a unique talent that his brilliance is he does so many things well on a basketball floor," Nash said. "He’s able to playmake and create for others with his size, speed and vision. He’s an incredible player on the fast break. He’s an elite defender, incredible rebounder for his position, and he can play different spots offensively.

"He can facilitate as the point guard, he can be a playmaker, be a roller, so he can facilitate in a lot of different ways offensively, and we know what he has defensively. He’s kind of a non-traditional basketball player who gets it done in so many different areas of the game. It’s going to be fun to put him in our program and try to help him find his best level, which is exciting."

Though all that is tantalizing, the Nets have no intention of rushing the process. "Patience and process’’ continues to be the mantra, even if panic seems like a more natural reaction, given the 11-game losing streak the Nets snapped Monday.

"I think it has to come naturally," Nash said, referencing integrating Simmons and the other trade additions, Andre Drummond and Seth Curry.

"It hurts to suffer like this and lose games. At the same time, we have to have the big picture in mind. While we go out and try to win every night, we can’t skip steps. We have to be as thoughtful and as methodical with our approach as we can.

"If it all comes together seamlessly, that’d be great. If not, we stick to our process and continue to build that cohesion and understanding, and whatever time it takes, it takes."

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