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February 24, 2017

Sixers shut Simmons down for season; Embiid 'progressing' but remains out

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When Bryan Colangelo stepped to the podium at the Sixers practice facility in Camden on Friday morning, the expectation was a press conference surrounding the moves made a day earlier at the NBA Trade Deadline. But before getting to that news, the Sixers president of basketball operations dropped a bombshell on the fanbase, one that had little to do with any trades.

According to Colangelo, first-overall pick Ben Simmons will not play this season after the scan on his right foot Thursday at the Hospital of Special Surgery in New York showed that his right foot still has not fully healed. 

"Yesterday, Ben underwent a [CT] scan with the doctors in New York and unfortunately the scan indicated that there's not full healing of the bone," Colangelo said. "And thus, with the amount of time left in the season – and the next scan scheduled for about a month from now – the plan, as stated today, is that he will sit out the rest of the year. There's just not enough time, post that next scan, to get moving and progress enough with a loading pattern and progression that would put him in game-ready condition [this season]."

Simmons has yet to play in a game this season after suffering a Jones fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his right foot on Sept. 30, the final day of training camp. 

"We're going to try to get him ready as early as this summer," Colangelo added. "We're going to talk about putting him in a summer league situation where he can get some game experience, maybe play with some of the new draft picks, and some of our young players and get him ready for basketball next season.

"It's not the way you want to start your career, but it's not uncommon. It's happened with several notable players – Julius Randle with the Lakers, Blake Griffin missed his rookie year or first year he was available to be a rookie. We're not excited about the news today, but I'm very excited about having a talent the level of Ben Simmons in the mix and part of what we can look at as a potential foundational piece of this basketball program."

Last week, head coach Brett Brown said the team expected Simmons to return to the court this season but a day later it was revealed that his scan in late January showed that his surgically-repaired foot had not yet fully healed. That was despite all indications from the team being that Simmons was progressing as expected.

Typically, the recovery time for such an injury is three to four months. Next week, when the calendar turns to March, Simmons will be entering the fifth month of his rehab. That's because, according to Keith Pompey of the Inquirer, "the doctor’s visit revealed an inside portion of the bone wasn’t fully mended together."


Colangelo also offered an update on injured center Joel Embiid, who hasn't played since January 24 after suffering a bone bruise in his knee a few days earlier.

"Joel Embiid is still recovering and rehabilitating his knee injury, which is a bone bruise and all signs indicate that he is progressing well," Colangelo said. "We are in the process of establishing a progression back to play. There's been some confusion about when that would be. A couple days ago, he was going to be doubtful for the two weekend games, but upon some consultation with doctors two days ago, that plan changed to include the week-long schedule.

"So he's going to miss the next four at a minimum, and then we'll see where things are. We had all planned on Joel coming back right after the All-Star [break]. We thought that there would be ample time for his training and progression, but I think that with the timing of everything that occurred, in terms of All-Star weekend. His training was light, but not heavy-practice or heavy-game situations. The doctors felt it was more prudent, having only a couple practice sessions to work with, that we wait a few more games.

"It's still not thought to be anything serious. It's just being prudent and protective of the longterm health and interest of Joel Embiid. And that's the single most important thing, both with Ben Simmons and with Joel, given their importance to this building that we're going through."

Again, there was not real timeline given for when Embiid will return to action. All we know for sure is that it will be at least four more games. Beyond that, it'll depend on the doctors. 

And with what we've seen to this point regarding the handling of Embiid's knee injury, another extension on his recovery can't be ruled out.

Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin