Ben Simmons might be the latest Philadelphia 76ers blue-chipper to miss all of his rookie year due to injury, if a new report is to be believed.
It would almost seem as if the 76ers are cursed. Highly-touted lottery pick Nerlens Noel missed what would have been his rookie year in the 2013-14 season due to injuries. Another high draft pick, Joel Embiid, was picked third in 2014, but injuries and setbacks caused him to miss not just one year, but two. And while 2016 top pick Simmons seemed like the Sixers’ savior after a moribund 10-72 campaign in 2015-16, he broke a bone in his foot last Friday and is likely to miss a great deal of action. But that might not be the worst thing to happen to the Sixers in 2016-17; according to a new rumor, his agent might not let him play his rookie year, even if he does get healthy at some point in the season.
In an interview with Philadelphia radio station 97.5 The Fanatic, Philadelphia Daily News reporter Bob Cooney cited an internal source who believes Simmons’ agent Rich Paul won’t allow the Australian rookie to suit up for an NBA game this season. NBC Sports and other publications quoted Cooney’s whammy of a rumor, which should spell bad news for Simmons and the struggling Philadelphia 76ers:
“I just got off the phone with somebody who I really trust in the NBA, and he’s like, ‘there’s no way his agent is going to let him play this year.’ That’s an injury that you don’t mess around with, and he thinks he’s going to keep him off his feet all year.”
Regardless whether Paul intervenes or not, it’s not even sure whether Ben Simmons will suit up this season or not. In a statement released Tuesday by the Philadelphia 76ers, the team said that the hyper-talented forward from LSU suffered an acute Jones fracture in his right foot during a team scrimmage last Friday and had gone through surgery to repair the fracture on Tuesday. No specifics on the timetable of his recovery were specified, but Business Insider speculated that Simmons might not get to play in the 2016-17 season due to the gravity of the injury.
— Michael Preston (@preston76) October 4, 2016
If there’s any solace for the Sixers now that they may not have their blue-chip rookie in uniform for one entire season, the team does have a healthy Noel and Embiid, with the latter’s official NBA debut after two years on the sidelines being one to look out for. Embiid had a decent preseason debut in limited action, registering six points, four rebounds, and two blocked shots as Philadelphia beat the Boston Celtics, 92-89, on Tuesday. There’s also 2015 first-rounder Jahlil Okafor, who averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds as a rookie center. As all these three players are listed as centers and/or power forwards, one of them may have to go via trade, but the youth and talent is definitely there at the four and the five.
But would it be a good idea to trade for someone who could fill in for Simmons at small forward? Business Insider pointed out that the Oklahoma City Thunder did lose Kevin Durant for 27 games in 2014-15 due to a similar Jones fracture, and based on what we’ve seen, the injury hasn’t been career-altering in any way for the recent Golden State Warriors signee. Likewise, Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez had that same injury and missed a lot more time, though he’s been healthy as of late and just as good as he was pre-injury, if not better. Further, the Sixers still have Robert Covington at the three; he might not be starting material on most other NBA teams, but he’s been one of Philadelphia’s better players since the 2014-15 season.
Considering all that we know about the Ben Simmons injury and the Philadelphia 76ers’ available options, it looks like the best thing for the Sixers to do is to be patient – Simmons will return and probably won’t miss much of a step. The only question, however, is how long it would take for him to return.
[Featured Image by Mike Stobe/Getty Images]