The ‘ultimate goal’ for Ben Simmons as Brooklyn Nets give promising update on injured Australian

Time is running out on Ben Simmons and the Nets, but the team hasn’t given up on him returning this season.

Despite Simmons having not played since February 15, head coach Jacque Vaughn said before Thursday’s 101-96 loss to the Kings at Barclays Center, “There is zero discussion about him not playing. We expect him to be back, we’re waiting for him to be back.”

Vaughn added that Simmons, who has been dealing with both knee and back soreness, has returned to working on the court — though the coach declined to discuss any specifics about what Simmons was doing or a potential timeline for his return to game action.

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The team has just 12 games remaining, but Vaughn insisted he was encouraged by the progress Simmons has made of late.

“He’s just trying to get to a place where he feels good and he feels good back on the court, and get to a place where he’s not having soreness or inflammation and he’s ready to hoop,’’ Vaughn said.

“We want him back to hoop, he wants to be back to hoop, and that is definitely the goal.”

Asked if he expected Simmons to return this season, Vaughn said, “We’re definitely operating with that belief.”

The team has been encouraged by the fact Simmons hasn’t gone backward, physically, of late.

“He’s had no setbacks,’’ Vaughn said.

“He’s progressing. It’s great to see him doing some work on the court right now. As more dates [for activity] come, I’ll give them to you guys, but it’s good to see him back on the court, getting work in.”

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Asked for a description of what, exactly, Simmons is doing when he’s on the court as he attempts to play again, Vaughn responded, “I’m just gonna say ‘on court,’ so we have no interpretation of how many people are on the court, how many balls are on the court [or] how many defenders.”

As to whether there was a potential return date set, Vaughn again said, “There’s no timetable for him. The ultimate goal is we don’t have a recurrence. We get feedback every time he’s on the floor, what strengthening he has done on both his back and his knee, and he’s had no setbacks, which is good.”

It’s unclear exactly how severe the soreness and inflammation has been for Simmons, though Vaughn said the 6-foot-11 Simmons has experienced discomfort in both areas.

This is the fourth — and longest — stretch of games the 26-year-old has missed this season.

This article first appeared on The New York Postand was reproduced with permission.

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