Ben Simmons made it back to the Philadelphia 76ers' practice facility on Tuesday for the first time since his team dropped Game 7 against the Atlanta Hawks in the second round of the playoffs last year.
So far, the star guard has taken COVID-19 tests, a physical, and met with members of the organization such as President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey, General Manager Elton Brand, and head coach Doc Rivers.
While Rivers mentioned that Simmons is expected to take the practice court for an individual workout on Wednesday evening, he's not allowed to join his 76ers teammates for any team-wide activities until the NBA clears him.
"I want to say Friday," said Rivers in regards to when he believes Simmons can finally join the team after holding out for the last couple of weeks. "I'm not actually positive on that, but I think that it's Friday."
On Friday, the Sixers will be in Detroit, ready to take on the Pistons for their final game of the preseason. Typically, Simmons would be a candidate to possibly sit out from the final game of the preseason. This year, Rivers refuses to rule him out of that matchup now that he's back in the mix.
"We're not ruling that out at all," Rivers said. "Whether we play him or not, that's gonna depend on what we see this week. You know, he's coming from behind because he hasn't been in camp, obviously. Having said that, do you rush him and put him on the floor? That's another subject. That'll go from our eyes. What we see this week is how we'll determine everything moving forward."
If Friday is the first time Simmons can reunite with the team, the chances of him taking the floor against the Pistons seems like a longshot. However, as he is behind since he hasn't practiced with the team since last season, it would be beneficial for the three-time All-Star to get his feet wet in the preseason before hitting the road for the opener in New Orleans. Regardless of what the Sixers want to do, they have to ensure Simmons is willing to play for them before ruling Simmons in or out for Friday.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.