There's optimism Brooklyn Nets guard Ben Simmons -- out for nearly 2½ months because of a back injury -- could return to the lineup as soon as Monday against the Utah Jazz, sources told ESPN.

Simmons is expected to practice with the organization's Long Island G League affiliate over the weekend, and barring a setback, he could return Monday, sources said.

Simmons, who has been out since Nov. 6 with a lower back nerve impingement, has played only six games this season for the Nets. He has averaged a career-low 6.5 points and a career-high 10.8 rebounds.

Simmons, 27, landed with the Nets after a trade deadline deal in 2022, but he never played a game in the 2021-22 season. He played 42 games a season ago, averaging 6.9 points and career lows of 6.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists.

Simmons has yet to reclaim the stature of his early career with the 76ers, where he was a three-time All-Star, two-time All-Defensive first-team player and Rookie of the Year.

The Nets could use a positive impact from him, especially after recent struggles that have dropped them to 11th place in the East with a 17-26 record.