According to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, the Sixers expect to have Ben Simmons available to play if the NBA season resumes.
Simmons spoke to the media on March 11, before the Sixers played the Pistons and the season was suspended. He discussed the nerve impingement in his lower back, saying he felt “no pain.”
Though a statement from the Sixers that day said Simmons would be re-evaluated in approximately three weeks, the team has not issued any further updates on Simmons’ condition. MacMullan, however, provided details on his status.
“The hope of a mid-April return for the playoffs has been deferred,” she writes, “though sources tell ESPN that Simmons will be good to go as his lower back impingement has all but dissipated. ‘If the season resumes,’ says a team source, ‘we're expecting to have him.’”
The last game Simmons played in was on Feb. 22 against the Bucks, when he left in the first quarter.
“I felt a pinch in my back during the [Milwaukee] game,” he said on March 11. “Tried to continue through it for a little bit and obviously knew it was something that was bothering me too much and went back to the locker room. But since then I’ve been feeling great. Just rehabbing.”
Per ESPN, the Sixers’ intent all along was to have Simmons play in the postseason.
“Multiple team sources confirmed the original plan was always to bring Simmons back for the postseason,” MacMullan writes, “and, depending on his comfort level, work him back in for a ‘handful’ of regular-season games.”
How has Simmons rehabbed under the unusual circumstances necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic? He’s been allowed to receive treatment at the Sixers’ practice facility in Camden, New Jersey, MacMullan reports.
Because Simmons is injured, he has been permitted, per NBA guidelines, to visit the Sixers practice facility for treatment.
"Even during the early stages of his rehab, Simmons regularly engaged in ballhandling drills to keep his skills sharp. Since then, Simmons has graduated from water rehab to training on a weightless treadmill to conditioning and shooting and a regulated weight-training program. Like many NBA stars whose movements have been confined during social distancing, he ordered a basketball hoop online for his driveway at his new suburban New Jersey home and has been getting up shots in preparation for his return.
"'He's feeling strong,’ a member of Simmons' camp says. ‘The original restrictions were very limiting, but all of them have been removed. He would probably need another scan, so the doctors could officially clear him, but there's been no setbacks. He's dying to get out there.’
While the state of the NBA season is uncertain, MacMullan’s reporting obviously seems positive for the Sixers. If there is a playoffs for the 2019-20 season, the Sixers will clearly be better off with Simmons, a two-time All-Star and the league’s leader in steals.
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