ben simmons
Brad Penner | USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE: ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports Game 4 is a “realistic target” for Ben Simmons to make his Nets debut.


The ball is in Ben Simmons‘ court.

Nets coach Steve Nash said Simmons will finally take the floor for the Nets — down 1-0 in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series with the Celtics — when Simmons decides he is ready to play.

“There’s no other way than him to say, ‘I’m ready,'” Nash said Wednesday before Game 2 in Boston, according to ESPN. “Especially after an absence this long. So whenever he is ready, it’s going to have to be on him to say, ‘I feel comfortable. I feel ready to go. I want to play and I want to contribute.’ We can’t push him places when you have been out this long. It’s got to be something where he is definitely comfortable and ready to play.”

Nash’s comments come a day after Simmons played four-on-four hoops in practice. This milestone put him on track to potentially play five-on-five by the end of the week, which was the goal after he was reportedly strutting around like Michael Jordan while still playing one-on-zero, which is the most obnoxious way to say someone is shooting hoops on his own.

Simmons, who has not played a single minute since he blew up the 76ers’ season last June in the conference finals, has come a long way this month. He’s gone from sitting on the bench and being heckled by obsessive jilted Philadelphians to light workouts to filing a grievance against the Sixers to shooting free throws to maybe playing in the playoffs to channeling Jordan to scrimmaging. And while Game 2 is off the table, no one is shutting the door on Game 3 yet. Or Games 4-7. Or any of the possible games after that.

The odds of Simmons — a guy who famously would not shoot the ball with a trip to the NBA Finals in play — making a major impact for the Nets after almost a year off are slim. But he has to be the most talked-about New York athlete that has yet to actually play in New York at this point. We need to see him at some point. And that time may definitely maybe come soon.

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.