February 16, 2017
And the hits just keep on coming, as a rough week of public relations just got worse for the Sixers. On Thursday afternoon, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons was scheduled to visit the Hospital of Special Surgery in New York next week for another foot scan.
Specifically, that would mean Simmons’ foot had not fully healed as of January 23rd.
This is notable for a couple of reasons, the most important of which being that Simmons’ rehab is taking much longer than expected. The 6’10” point forward suffered an acute Jones fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his right foot stepping on teammate Shawn Long’s foot during the Sixers’ final training camp practice of 2016 at Stockton University. Simmons underwent surgery on the foot in New York on October 4th, and the normal recovery for the injury is generally thought to be about three months.
Three months would have meant an early January return for Simmons, but fast-forward to mid-February and the Sixers don’t plan to have Simmons take part in five-on-five activities during the upcoming all-star break. Even if the team were taking Simmons’ rehab extra cautiously (understandable, considering the history of players like Kevin Durant rushing back from the injury), this has taken quite a bit longer than anyone initially expected.
And then, there is the public relations element of Simmons’ injury. Just yesterday, Brown told ESPN.com that he fully expects Simmons to play this season. A few months ago, the coach also said that he believed Simmons would be back in January but later walked those comments back. As part of the Inquirer’s reporting on Thursday, “Sources said that a foot scan on Jan. 23 showed that his foot was not fully healed.”
If that is in fact the case, the report doesn’t jibe with what the Sixers told the media on January 24th. From Sixers.com:
The results of the scan, which Bryan Colangelo told Comcast SportsNet over the weekend he hopes will be the last one Simmons undergoes, were clean.
Medical update:— Philadelphia 76ers (@Sixers) January 24, 2017
Simmons had planned scan in NY yesterday. Recovery progressing as expected, still no timetable for return to play.
Simmons first took part in 5-on-0 drills all the way back on January 10th, but he hasn't progressed into 5-on-5 work in the past month. Something doesn't add up, and here is a rough timeline of Simmons' rehab:
| October 4th||Undergoes surgery |
|January 10th || Cleared to play 5-on-0|
|January 23rd||Scan, "recovery progressing as expected" |
| February 13th||Still not playing 5-on-5|
|February 16th ||Report that Jan 23rd scan showed foot wasn't fully healed|
When PhillyVoice reached out to the Sixers for comment, we received the following statement from Colangelo, which doesn't address the issue of any possible misinformation:
"We continue to monitor the recovery of Ben's injury and are employing a conservative and thoughtful approach to his rehabilitative program, basing his return to full basketball activity on the advice and direction of medical professionals. His next CT scan is scheduled for February 23, after which our medical team will thoroughly review and evaluate his status moving forward. Ben's long-term health remains our primary concern."
When it comes to Simmons’ prolonged absence, there have also been some conspiracy theories, the most prominent of which involves his contract with Nike, which reportedly has bonuses for making the all-rookie team and winning rookie of the year. If Simmons were to make a late return instead of skipping the season entirely, he would stand to potentially miss out on some money.
But now with his foot reportedly not completely healed and just two months left in the season, the idea of Simmons missing his entire rookie season doesn’t seem out of the question.
And hey, if that is the case, it’s not like the Sixers aren’t used to it.
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann