Injured Nets guard Ben Simmons watches from the bench during...

Injured Nets guard Ben Simmons watches from the bench during the third quarter against the Cavaliers at Barclays Center last March. Credit: Brad Penner

LAS VEGAS — Ben Simmons has often posted workout pictures on Instagram this summer. Yet the Nets guard still is not close to resuming competition.

Last month, the Australian national team announced that Simmons, who is training in Miami, won’t play in the FIBA World Cup in order to focus on rehabbing from a back injury. At NBA Summer League on Sunday, Nets general manager Sean Marks gave more clarity on Simmons’ progress.

“He’s not doing three-on-three or five-on-five yet,” Marks said. “I was down there two weeks ago with him and the training staff and saw the progress and happy to report he’s in a great physical shape and also mentally.

He’s champing at the bit to get out there. We’ve got time.”

Three-on-three or five-on-five workouts are signs that a player is closer to returning.

In April, after the season, Marks said the goal was for Simmons to be “back 100% probably by Sept. 1” and a full-go for training camp. However, that timeline would have overlapped with teams practicing for the World Cup in August, so Marks said the Nets and Simmons agreed to have him skip the tournament.

“He’s made it very clear to us that’s something he wants to do in the future,” Marks said.

“This particular summer, he just ran out of time. It just wasn’t the right thing to do to put him out there without playing and rushing it.”

The question remains whether Simmons indeed will be healthy by training camp and what kind of player he’ll be. Two seasons ago, he made his third All-Star team and second All-Defensive first team.

Last season, he averaged only 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists and only 5.6 field-goal attempts per game. All were career lows as he battled back and knee injuries.

Marks said the hope is that Simmons can return to that All-Star level, but it will depend on his health.

“I think knowing that he’s [in his] mid-20s and he has still hopefully not reached his prime, we’re going to make sure he can get back out there and get back to that form,” Marks said.

Simmons still fits within the Nets’ new era built around Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson. How he fits remains a mystery, but coach Jacque Vaughn expects to find out.

“I’m looking forward to a healthy Ben Simmons and coaching him,” Vaughn said.

Marks is hopeful, too, but the only sign of Simmons’ recovery are the clues on Instagram. Photos, however, can’t say much, and there are reasons for fans to mix hope with skepticism.

Yet as Marks noted: “There’s still time for those questions to be answered.

This is not something we’re going to rush him back in to play five-on-five in the next couple weeks. But he’s progressing. He’ll be ready to go hopefully very, very soon.”

Nets duo ready for Cup

Johnson and Bridges

will go international when both suit up for Team USA in the FIBA World Cup.

Bridges was among the players singled out by Team USA coach Steve Kerr last week. As much as Bridges’ offensive game improved after his trade from the Suns, Kerr plans to highlight why he made the defensive first team two seasons ago. “There’s no question in my mind that Mikal Bridges is going to be a huge factor for us defensively,” Kerr said on a Zoom call.

“As a coach, you go in these things . . . you say, well, who’s going to guard Luka [Doncic], who’s going to guard Giannis Antetokounmpo. One of the reasons we built the roster the way we did was we have multiple options for these sort of things.”

As for Johnson, Kerr praised his ability to stretch the floor with his shooting. Johnson may not be an All-Star like fellow Team USA forwards Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Ingram, but Kerr said all 12 players will be counted on in some fashion.

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