Amid a potential coronavirus outbreak, the 76ers had just nine players healthy and available – one more than the minimum required – for their game against the Nuggets on Saturday.
Then, suddenly, Philadelphia had only seven.
Philadelphia ruled out Ben Simmons (knee) and Joel Embiid (back) despite neither injury appearing on the team’s injury report. (Embiid was listed as questionable due only to contract tracing then cleared. Simmons wasn’t listed at all.) But the NBA determined the 76ers had enough players.
Denver beat Philadelphia in a game 76ers Doc Rivers said shouldn’t have been played.
Philadelphia’s problems continued afterward.
The Philadelphia 76ers have been fined $25,000 for violating the league’s injury reporting rules, the NBA announced today.
The violation occurred when the 76ers failed to list guard Ben Simmons on the team’s initial injury report for a game on January 9 against the Denver Nuggets in which Simmons did not play.
If a team’s injury report can’t be trusted, it’s a massive blow to the NBA’s credibility – just as the league is touting its transparency while attempting to draw more revenue through gambling. I’m surprised the fine wasn’t larger.
Though there’s a compelling case the game should have been postponed, that doesn’t excuse the 76ers.
Really, their actions suggest sitting Simmons wasn’t in response to not being granted a postponement. Rivers said Simmons was viewed as doubtful immediately after Philadelphia’s loss to the Nets on Thursday. Simmons is also out against the Hawks tonight due to knee swelling.
So, why not disclose the injury until after the NBA ruled the 76ers-Nuggets game would be played?
That question and many others linger as the NBA pushes forward with games amid the pandemic. As some teams are being forced to play shorthanded, there will be speculation about how far teams will go to gain competitive advantages – or at least not play with disadvantages.