NBA Rumor: Ben Simmons Injury

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The Philadelphia 76ers have no clarity on how long All-Star forward Ben Simmons will be sidelined after partially dislocating his left knee cap. For the sake of preparing his team for the postseason, however, has Sixers coach Brett Brown told his players to brace for the worst-case scenario? “No,” Brown told USA TODAY Sports following the Sixers’ 114-108 win over the Orlando Magic on Friday. “Everybody thinks different things, so I don’t want to be full of (BS) and say, ‘No, everybody thinks he’s playing tomorrow.’ People know we were just trying to play tonight knowing we didn’t have Ben and that we’re going to learn more later. But no is the short answer.”

Brown said the Sixers should know within the next 24 hours what the next steps for Simmons will be. The team said in its statement Thursday that treatment options were being considered. Simmons has already been ruled out for Friday’s game against the Orlando Magic. “Yeah, it’s a little frustrating sometimes,” guard Josh Richardson said of losing Simmons. “But that’s the way the game goes. So we’re going to just have to have a next-man-up mentality like we’ve had all year. Guys will pick up the slack, and when we get him back, he’ll fit back in seamlessly.

That will hinge on a couple of primary factors: which treatment option Simmons decides on, and how his body responds to the treatment. While Simmons’ general durability and recovery from a recent back injury are encouraging factors, it’s hard to say what the timetable looks like until the specifics are hammered down. Surgery is usually not recommended for first-time injuries of this nature, but even conservative treatment plans can last in the neighborhood of six weeks.

“My opinion, and this is not confirmed yet, is that we are going to be able to inch him back into this,” Brown said. “Is he going to be 100%, I don’t expect that. But I think he is going to be available.” Brown has kept busy the last few months. When the NBA shut down, Brown put his staff to work. He searched for reasons why a team that was 29-2 at home could be a dreadful 10-24 on the road. Everything from travel schedules to hotels to team meetings were dissected. He studied the offense, which failed to click, especially in the half court. He studied the defense, which slipped into the middle of the pack after Christmas. “It was what did we do well and what didn’t we,” Brown said. “And let’s fix the stuff we didn’t.

Keith Pompey: #Sixers GM Elton Brand is optimistic that Ben Simmons (back) will return if or when the season resumes. But Brand was asked if the PG would be ready if the playoffs were today: “It’s tough because of him not playing 3-on-3, 5-on-5 just to speculate there. But when I FaceTime him during his workouts, during his treatment and I see him, I’d be highly encouraged that his ramp up would be different. We took our time. We’ve been methodical and thoughtful about his recovery and rehab just to make sure, because we weren’t in a rush. It’s hard to speculate, but he’s been working hard, and I know he’d be closer or ready.”

The nerve impingement diagnosis lacks clarity because the cause of the impingement is a critical factor in Simmons’ recovery. That detail has not been released, so we’re a bit in the dark. (The Sixers have yet to release an official statement on Simmons’ injury, but a team representative confirmed to The Athletic it is “nerve impingement in the lower back.”) What we do know is Simmons was dealing with back issues before Saturday’s game. According to the team, Simmons initially felt discomfort last Wednesday, during the first practice following the All-Star break. He received treatment following that practice, and again on Thursday as he still experienced pain. He then missed last Thursday’s game against Brooklyn with “lower back tightness.”

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