So life goes on for the Philadelphia 76ers, much the way it has the last three years, with one of their prized rookies missing extended time with an injury.
First, it was Nerlens Noel missing an entire season with an ACL injury. Next, Joel Embiid, had to sit out two seasons with a broken foot. Jahlil Okfor was limited to just 53 games, after surgery to his right knee, and now Ben Simmons has what is reported to be a ‘Jones fracture’ in his foot, which would sideline him for about three months.
“We are all disappointed this happened, I feel very badly for Ben to be in a situation to start his career this way,” Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo admitted. “But this is an injury that he should come back from and have a very successful and long career.”
Colangelo addressed the injury today saying while surgery is “likely,” they will continue to investigate options for the injury, suggesting the injury will not have a long-term impact on his career, but he did make it clear that the team won’t rush him back.
“In no way, shape or form are we going to rush him back,” Colangelo stressed. “This is a process that we will go through, the same way we have handled other injury situations in the past.”
This isn’t the first time the Sixers franchise has dealt with foot injuries.
Andrew Toney had his career cut shot due to chronic foot pain, and who can forget Jeff Ruland’s brittle feet that forced him into an early requirement. Of course most recent is Embiid, who understands what Simmons is going through.
“Obviously I felt for him,” Embiid told reporters after today’s practice. “I had to go through it, and mine was a few years, I had to talk to him and let him know everything is going to be okay. There (are) a lot of good doctors around, so he is going to be okay.”
So how will the Sixers move forward without Simmons?
While Sixers coach Brett Brown acknowledged this was injury felt like a punch to the gut, he did recognize that it will allow others the chance to get a longer look that may not have been afford to them with Simmons around.
“I really believe with this situation somebody is going to emerge,” Brown predicted.
“We’re going to see something that we would never have learned about. There is nobody that has more experience dealing with injured draft picks than we have, so over the course of time you learn how to best deal with it.”
The mind-set Brown would like to see is resiliency, and one guy who seems to embody that trait is fellow rookie Dario Saric.
“Dario is going to have more opportunities, more responsibility,” Brown explained. “We will learn a lot (in) the preseason, we will learn a lot in that regard.”
Although it appears Saric, who said he is willing to do whatever the coaching staff needs from him, will play a bigger role to start the season, another option for more playing time according to Brown is third-year man Jerami Grant.
The Syracuse product has been around the team, and Brown has called him a leader. The athletic forward averaged 9.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks last season.
Brown also mentioned playing his ‘bigs’ together, which didn’t work well last season, but the Sixers could try to pair Noel and Embiid.
Sixers fans will get their first chance to see how it all shakes out on Tuesday night when they face the Boston Celtics in their preseason opener. Brown had previously stated that Jerryd Bayless would start along with Gerald Henderson, Robert Covington, Simmons and Embiid, but it’s likely that Saric replaces Simmons in the starting five.