Not only will the Nets have to wait a good bit longer for their superstar core to fully come together, but they might be competing without their coach, too.
On a day when New York City Mayor Eric Adams said that Kyrie Irving will still not be allowed to play home games when the entertainment venue vaccine mandate is lifted on March 7, Steve Nash revealed that Ben Simmons is still at least a week away from practicing, and that Kevin Durant will not make his return from an MCL sprain until Thursday, at the earliest.
Meanwhile, Nash entered the NBA’s COVID health and safety protocols – something that was announced moments before they were set to take on the Raptors at Barclays Center Monday. Assistant coach Jacque Vaughn assumed coaching duties, and it seems likely he’ll be at the helm Tuesday, as the Nets travel to Toronto.
Simmons is undergoing physical therapy for a sore back in addition to taking part to return to competition reconditioning, Nash said. He hasn’t played in a game since last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals. He also hasn’t been cleared for any high-intensity activity.
"He’s just doing some light shooting and just physical therapy, making sure that he gets that back 100% [after] that little flareup," Nash said. He’s doing all the "shooting and reconditioning stuff that he’s able to do while that thing settles down."
Nash added the Nets remain hopeful that Durant will be able to play this week – if not Thursday, then Sunday in Boston. Nash didn’t know whether Simmons or Durant would travel with the team to Toronto Tuesday.
Meanwhile, there is no update on Joe Harris, who is trying to return from ankle surgery, Nash said. The possibility of another surgery is still on the table.
"Joe is just working away at it," Nash said. "There’s no real update but he’s still fighting the good fight and seeing if he can progress…I think we’re waiting [to decide on a second surgery]. We’re waiting to see how he responds. There are no decisions made either way and we’re just trying to see how much improvement he can get over the coming weeks."