76ers CEO Scott O’Neil guaranteed No. 1 pick Ben Simmons would play this season. Just about a week ago, Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said he expected Simmons to play this season.
But with rumor after rumor — the latest report saying his injured right foot hadn’t fully healed, even though he had participated in drills — indicating Simmons could miss the entire year, the 76ers accepted this undesirable fate.
Ben Simmons is officially out for the season, Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said Friday.
Simmons had a CT scan on his injured right foot Thursday in New York which showed that the foot is not yet fully healed.
He’ll have another scan in about a month, Colangelo said.
“I have always known that there was a desire to get him back on the court when healthy,” Colangelo said. “We’ve always anticipated there would be an opportunity for him to play, hopefully this season.
“But there was always the outside chance that it didn’t happen because there wasn’t complete and full healing. And we weren’t going to put Ben Simmons in a place where he was (susceptible) to a re-fracture.
“There are genetic things that change the healing patterns of people. So if everybody had done their research and saw that most Jones fractures took 3 to 4 months, great. But it’s not 3 to 4 months in every case, it’s 3 to 4 months in most cases.”
“He’s heartbroken. He wants to play. He wants to be out there. It’s eating him alive, I’m sure.”
Simmons follows Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid as high first-round picks to miss their entire first professional season with the 76ers. If it weren’t for Embiid’s emergence this season, this would be an even more bitter pill to swallow for Philadelphia fans fixated on immediate on-court gains.
But Embiid has provided more than enough reason for optimism, though he’s also hurt now (just not nearly as severely).
Long-term, the 76ers must figure out how Embiid and Simmons mesh and try to develop them together. We know Embiid works well with a stretch four, but what about a dynamic passing power forward like Simmons — or a tall point guard, if that’s what Simmons become? This injury delays answering those questions.
It also raises questions about Simmons — his ability to avoid and recover from injuries. Colangelo’s comments about Simmons’ genetics are particularly eyebrow-raising.
Likewise, there should be questions about the 76ers’ handling of their players’ health. How could Simmons return to on-court work before fully healed?
Philadelphia, at various points, has tried to accelerate its rise. But properly rebuilding takes time and care. At times like this, the 76ers must remember to trust The Process.