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Report: Ben Simmons “weeks” away from debut with Nets

76ers star Ben Simmons

ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 11: Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on before the game against the Atlanta Hawks during Round 2, Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Playoffs on June 11, 2021 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

James Harden is expected to make his 76ers debut on Feb. 25, just after the All-Star break ends.

Ben Simmons will not play that soon, but he is weeks away, not months, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, speaking on NBA Today.

“Ben Simmons, from what I’m told, is going to really ramp it up this week and see where he’s at at the end of the week. But he’s getting close. I think it’s going to be more like weeks rather than months.”

Simmons needs to ramp up his physical conditioning and deal with the personal challenges and mental health issues that kept him off the court in Philadelphia. Apparently all of that is going well.

There has been speculation that Simmons will play his first game at the same time Kevin Durant returns from his sprained knee. That way, Simmons doesn’t have to carry the same burden and deal with the expectations without the Nets’ best player next to him.

Durant has been doing some on-court work and expressed confidence in returning sometime after the All-Star break, but no timeline has been set.

How much time those two Nets stars get together — and how many games Kyrie Irving can join them due to his unvaccinated status — remains to be seen. Whether it will be enough to build some chemistry and good habits before going into a wide-open postseason with the Bucks, Heat, 76ers, Bulls and Cavaliers remains to be seen.