76ers

Report: Ben Simmons' foot might not be fully healed, exam next week

Report: Ben Simmons' foot might not be fully healed, exam next week

Updated: February 17, 12:30 a.m. ET

Ben Simmons' fractured foot might not yet be fully healed — but a local orthopaedic specialist explains why it's not a major concern — and Simmons' next CT scan is scheduled for Feb. 23.

According to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Simmons' previous foot scan on Jan. 23 showed that an inside portion of the bone was not fully healed, which explains why Simmons has yet to make his regular-season debut. 

That's not aligned with the Sixers' update from Jan. 24, which stated Simmons' recovery was progressing on schedule — although the team has neither said the foot is "fully healed" nor given an official timetable for his return. 

ESPN reported last month, citing sources, that the foot had "completely healed."

Later Thursday evening, Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo revealed that Simmons will undergo a CT scan next Thursday as part of the following statement:

"We continue to monitor the recovery of Ben's injury and are employing a conservative and thoughtful approach to his rehabilitative program, basing his return to full basketball activity on the advice and direction of medical professionals,” Colangelo said. “His next CT scan is scheduled for Feb. 23, after which our medical team will thoroughly review and evaluate his status moving forward. Ben's long-term health remains our primary concern."

Simmons suffered the injury on Sept. 30 and initially was expected to miss three months. In October head coach Brett Brown said Simmons would return in January before admitting it was premature to do so.

Simmons has yet to be cleared for 5-on-5 practices, but Brown said Wednesday that the Sixers "do expect [Simmons] to play this year." 

"It is our expectation that he will get on a court," Brown said. "It's moving slowly. It's calculated. We're trying to be very careful."

Which is the prudent thing to do. Virtua Health System's Dr. Mark Schwartz said Thursday some Jones fractures heal within three to four months, and others take four to six months. 

"This is the type of injury you don't want to rush along in terms of return to play," Schwartz said on Comcast SportsNet's Philly Sports Talk.

"Sometimes the scans and the X-rays we take of these fractures lag behind what's really going on inside the body. So the fact that the latest scan didn't show complete healing doesn't mean that it's not going to go on to heal completely. It's just taking a little more time to show up. So I'm not overly concerned at 4½ months that it's not completely healed."

There is real value to playing Simmons this season. The Sixers will want to see what he can do within their system. They'll want to see how he fits with Joel Embiid, with Dario Saric, with the other guards before this year's draft and free agency. But the most important thing, obviously, is not rushing Simmons back out there.

A Jones fracture is a break of the fifth metatarsal, the outermost bone in the foot. Think about the outside of your right foot, close to the pinkie toe. When one is recovering from a Jones fracture, he/she is typically advised not to wiggle the foot or make a circular motion with it. 

Oftentimes a screw is inserted into the foot to fuse the broken bone back to where it should be. On rare occasions, the screw can become dislodged and cause problems. It happened to Julio Jones in 2013.

Full disclosure, I suffered a Jones fracture in my left foot on Nov. 28. Today, Feb. 16, was my first day back in a sneaker. I was told by a well-known foot surgeon that it will take a calendar year until I return to my previous level. Obviously, I'm not a world-class athlete, but I also didn't have as much rehab and care at my disposal as Simmons. 

The point is, the healing process with a Jones fracture is very slow. And running full-speed up and down an NBA court is much different than simply being able to walk normally again after rehab. Plus, the non-use of the foot — you're non-weight-bearing for about three months — leads to other things, like the decrease of muscle in the calf and quad of the affected leg.

Simmons and the Sixers will know more next week.

CSNPhilly.com's Jessica Camerato contributed to this report.

Ben Simmons joins elite company with triple-double in Sixers' 1st win

Ben Simmons joins elite company with triple-double in Sixers' 1st win

BOX SCORE

DETROIT — Sixers coach Brett Brown was well aware of the risk when he asked Ben Simmons, who played forward in high school and college, to run his team’s offense.

It was a gutsy call, at the time, that many critics scoffed and questioned.

Not anymore.

In just his fourth career NBA game, Simmons pieced together a memorable triple-double Monday night to become just the third player in history to accomplish the feat in such a time span, and more importantly, help lead the Sixers (1-3) to their first regular-season win.

“It’s awesome to have a triple-double, but at the same time, it’s even better to have that win,” Simmons said. “Especially with these guys and a young team like this.” cbdz

It wasn’t a do-or-die game for the Sixers by any stretch, but Monday night’s 97-86 win in Detroit certainly rejuvenated a fan base that may have started casting doubt as to whether the Sixers are a legit playoff-caliber team (see observations)

Moreover, it served as much-needed validation for Brown and his young, talent-packed squad, following three straight losses, including Saturday’s 34-point blowout loss in Toronto.

“I’m happy for our guys,” Brown said. “They really came into the building knowing that we needed to get a win. To get rewarded with the win, it just validates some of the work that everybody has put in.”

Particularly Simmons, who entered this season with the eyes of Philadelphia watching his every move during his first tour around the NBA after missing all of last season nursing a fractured foot. 

“We won, and, honestly, that means so much than stats for me,” said Simmons, who finished with 19 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. 

Simmons doesn’t fit the mold of a prototypical point guard, but — then again — the NBA has evolved into a position-less league. Players of all shapes and sizes do everything nowadays. And Simmons — just four games into his NBA career — is among those leading the charge.

“I mean, we all see how gifted he is physically,” Brown said. “Him, with the ball, able to do the things he does, produces a lot of these mismatches and numbers. 

“We’re able to post him. He’s able to seal the pick-and-rolls. You see how gifted he is in open court. He’s got that breakaway speed that is jaw-dropping. And he’s 6-foot-10.”

Simmons, to his credit, was extremely humble when asked about his triple-double accomplishment after the game. But it’s possible the 21-year-old phenom was unaware of the elite company he joined and how rare a feat it was to put up a triple-double just four games into his career. 

When Simmons notched his 10th assist on Joel Embiid’s layup with slightly more than minute to play, he became the first player with a triple-double in his first four career games since Hambone Williams in 1967. The only other player in NBA history to do so? Oscar Robertson, in 1960. 

“I feel like this stat line, we’ve kind of seen a snapshot of it the first three games,” Brown said. “It just seems a bit more special when it’s associated with a win.”

Win or not, Simmons has made it abundantly clear Monday night that — even with Markelle Fultz in the mix — he’s the Sixers’ point guard. No ands or buts about it.

When it was made clear in April that Brown wanted the versatile rookie to play point guard, the controversial decision was met with raised eyebrows. But Brown, to his credit, hasn’t wavered. And today, by all accounts, that gamble is paying off. 

“You know, the decision to make him our point guard is challenged in some some way,” he said. “But as an organization, we stayed strong that that’s where we want to play him.”

It was a gutsy call by Brown at the time, and while the Sixers may only be four games into the season, it’s proving to be the right call.

Sixers-Pistons observations: A Simmons triple-double and Embiid stars in 1st win

Sixers-Pistons observations: A Simmons triple-double and Embiid stars in 1st win

BOX SCORE

DETROIT — In a much-anticipated matchup Monday night featuring two elite centers, it was the Sixers’ big man Joel Embiid who stood above the rest.

Back in the starting lineup after sitting out Saturday’s blowout loss in Toronto, Embiid out-shined Detroit’s franchise player Andre Drummond to lead the Sixers to their first regular-season win — a much-needed 97-86 victory over the Pistons at Little Caesars Arena in downtown Detroit.

Embiid wasn’t alone with a stellar performance. Rookie Ben Simmons notched a triple-double to become just the third player to accomplish the feat within his first four games (Oscar Robertson in 1960 and Art “Hambone” Williams in 1967).

It was a much-needed win for the Sixers, who entered Monday winless and one game removed from a 34-point blowout loss in Toronto. 

Embiid showcased his polished shooting stroke, highlighted by a three-pointer to close out the first quarter, and put his athleticism on full display en route to a team-high 30-point performance. 

The 23-year-old center logged 28 minutes after playing 27 minutes on Friday. He took advantage of every minute, making 11 of 15 shots, grabbing nine boards and hitting 7 of 8 free throws. A second-quarter dramatic slam dunk over Drummond, who was held 14 points, capped Embiid’s impressive night. 

The Sixers took a 56-43 lead into the half, but nearly squandered a 21-point lead after the Pistons cut their lead to 81-78 with less than eight minutes to play before pulling away late.

• After falling just shy of a triple-double on Saturday, Simmons pulled it off Monday in the final minutes to become the third player in NBA history to record a triple-double within the first four career games. Simmons finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists to extend his career-starting double-double streak to a fourth straight game. In doing so, he became the first player since Shaquille O’Neal to record a double-double in each of his first four career games. O'Neal's stretch lasted 11 straight games.

• Markelle Fultz was held two just two points and failed to leave a strong offensive impression for the fourth straight game. Fultz consistently managed to get into position for open looks, but appeared hesitant to pull the trigger. When he did, he struggled to make shots outside the paint, including a wide open 15-footer in the first quarter. Fultz, who is battling a sore right shoulder, was limited to 16 minutes of action — the fewest minutes he’s logged this season.

• During Monday’s morning shootaround, head coach Brett Brown stressed the need for his team to cut down on turnovers and commit fewer fouls. The Sixers struggled with turnovers, committing 21 after averaging 17 the first three games, but managed to overcome early mistakes and limit the bleeding.

• Pistons fans didn’t take kindly to their home team’s sluggish first-half performance, showering Detroit with boos after Jerryd Bayless hit a three-pointer to put the Sixers up 51-30 in the second quarter. The Pistons announced a near-sellout crowd in what was the team’s second regular-season game at their new home, Little Caesars Arena. However, dozens of empty rows and a sea of red seats were spotted throughout the game. 

• Embiid quickly made his presence felt with six points (2 of 3 shooting) in the first five minutes before being subbed by former Piston Amir Johnson. Johnson, who finished with three points, has played on four teams throughout his 13-year career, and faced all three of his former teams (Pistons, Celtics and Raptors) in the last seven days.