The last time Sixers fans saw their star point guard in action, he was hobbling off the court clutching his back in Milwaukee. Prior to the league-wide suspension that took place due to safety concerns, Ben Simmons had missed the last eight games. With the injury reportedly being some sort of nerve-related issue in his back, serious questions arose regarding Simmons’ availability if the season did resume.
During my conference call with Sixers’ general manager Elton Brand earlier this week, he was quick to address the issue:
“A quick update on Ben Simmons, he’s doing really really well… Very optimistic he’ll be ready to play if and when we’re given that green light to resume.”
As far as a “ringing endorsement” goes when it comes to Simmons’ health, that’s about as close as you’re going to get. Brand opting to address this topic early in the conference (as opposed to waiting to be asked about it) should absolutely be viewed as a good sign. The Sixers clearly had a plan set in place to put any questions regarding Simmons’ injury to rest as soon as possible.
The 76ers have been notoriously vague with the media when it comes to the inner workings of their players’ injuries, and the same can be said for this recent Simmons issue. No official diagnosis was ever revealed, and the specific treatment which Simmons has been undergoing since the injury has also not been revealed to the public.
Rumors of potential back surgery had begun circulating right around mid to late March, with many fans beginning to speculate that Simmons would not be available for the remainder of the calendar year. With Brand’s recent “optimistic” comments, it’s safe to say Simmons won’t be undergoing any sort of serious medical procedure anytime soon.
Towards the later stages of the conference call Brand was asked directly on the status of Simmons’ health, questioning that if the NBA playoffs were to take place in the coming weeks, would Simmons be available to play:
“I’d be highly encouraged.. We’ve taken 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 (still) hard to speculate, but he’s been working hard and I know he’ll be close or ready”.
While it’s not always safe to take a general manager’s words and interpret them as the truth, it does seem pretty clear how Brand and the Sixers organization view Simmons at the moment. The extended break from basketball has likely allowed Simmons and the team to take a longer, safer approach to his rehab, not worrying about rushing him back into action. Considering it was emphasized on the call twice, I fully expect the Sixers’ 2x All-Star point guard to be available for whenever basketball does in fact return.
*Note: Brand also briefly touched on Tobias Harris’ and Joel Embiid’s health status (both had been battling nagging injuries prior to the league’s suspension). Both are fine and should have no lasting hindrances for when league play resumes.*
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports