What is Ben Simmons' future with Nets beyond series vs. Celtics?


The Brooklyn Nets traded for Ben Simmons back in February and we still haven't seen him play one single game for the franchise.

His debut could come soon, though.

The Athletic's Shams Charania reported Thursday that, assuming his rehab goes smoothly, Simmons plans to play in Game 4 of his team's first-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics on Monday night in Brooklyn.

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The Nets could be facing elimination in Game 4. The Celtics hold a 2-0 series after winning the first two games in Boston. The C's will aim for a 3-0 advantage Saturday night.

Even if Simmons does return in this series, what does his future look like in Brooklyn beyond this season? 

The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor gave his take Thursday night on NBC Sports Boston's "Boston Sports Tonight".

"I think they want him there, it's just a matter of does he really want to be there. Or is there a more advantageous move from them out there?" O'Connor said. "Think about it, this guy has missed a year with a number of different injuries, there's mental concerns about his ability on the court dealing with adversity. So with Simmons, for Brooklyn here, they have Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving -- they have to make sure this third piece is right. You can't rule out them moving Simmons this offseason.

"I think on paper, they want him there. They view him becoming a supersized version of what we've seen Bruce Brown do with screening and rolling to the basket, and playmaking and finishing some of those plays where there's not a whole lot of organization on offense, and being their No. 1 defender. So they want him there on paper. But to me, when I think about Ben Simmons, it's does he want to be there. And we won't know the answers to that until this summer."

Simmons is a tremendous player when healthy. He's always a triple-double threat with his impressive all-around skill set. His biggest strengths are playmaking, rebounding and playing elite perimeter defense. He has limitations offensively, especially his inability to shoot 3-pointers, but he can still give you 10-20 points on a given night.

The smartest scenario for the Nets is to keep Simmons going into next season. A couple playoff games -- assuming the Celtics win this series -- is not going to definitively tell you if he's a good fit with Durant and Irving. You need a much larger sample size to determine that. 

Simmons also is under contract through the 2024-25 campaign, so there's no need to rush any moves. He has the potential to be a strong fit next to Durant and Irving, and the Nets would be wise to give the former All-Star guard enough time to prove that will be the case.

Note: Games 3-6 of the Brooklyn Nets-Boston Celtics series will be aired on NBC Sports Boston and can also be streamed on NBCSportsBoston.com or with the MyTeams App, which you can download below.

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