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Report: Ben Simmons cleared for contact, did 4-on-4 work at practice yesterday

Just the latest update in the never-ending saga.

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2022 NBA Playoffs - Brooklyn Nets v Boston Celtics Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Though there’s still no telling when Brooklyn Nets’ forward Ben Simmons will see time in an actual NBA game, there’s yet another update to consider as part of the ongoing saga. Per ESPN’s Nick Friedell, Nets head coach Steve Nash told reporters Tuesday that Simmons has been cleared for contact amid his rehab from a herniated disk in his back.

“He got some 4-on-4 work in yesterday, [and] Nash said he came through it well,” Friedell tweeted after practice today. In a separate tweet, he posted a video of a new first: Simmons, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving all getting shots up at the same time after practice. Again... that’s the first time that has happened.

Nash has been cagey but consistent when it comes to updating the media on Simmons’ status as it relates to him playing in Brooklyn’s first-round series against the Boston Celtics. Just last week, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Simmons was “targeting a return for midway through the [series]... within Games 4-6.” Nash, meanwhile, said that there were no new updates on a timetable for Simmons, despite the fact that he has been increasing his activity on the court while rehabbing his back injury.

Simmons sustained that back injury — a herniated disk — last month, and had an epidural shot in mid-March to alleviate some of the pain. Last week, Nash noted that, while Simmons was “clearly” improving, the Nets’ coach had “no idea if he’s getting close to playing or not.”

While seeing Simmons — who has not played in an NBA game since June 20, 2021, the night his then-Philadelphia 76ers were eliminated from the playoffs by the Atlanta Hawks — would be unlikely, it’s worth noting that, up to this point, updates had been even cagier than the one we got today. Before today’s practice, Simmons had been working out “1-on-0,” something I do every day at a park nearby. And the other day, Simmons pointed to Friedell on the sidelines at practice, made sure he was recording, and promptly dunked... if you want to call it that.

Sources tell me that Pete Davidson is writing up his script for an SNL skit this weekend centered around the events of this very practice, with the dunk being a focal point. Okay, I’m lying, but based on the ferocity of that dunk, it wouldn’t be the biggest shock if this was sort of a joke.

No matter what updates come through between Tuesday and Wednesday night’s Game 2, one thing is for certain: We won’t be seeing Simmons in Game 2, as he will remain out. We’ll probably see him wearing some sort of Balenciaga garb; just not in uniform.