Although Ben Simmons is expected to recover from surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his right foot in just three months, rumor is circulating that he may sit out the entire 2016-17 season.
The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey stirred the pot on Sunday with his suggestion that the team should opt to redshirt the top overall pick in the 2016 draft, and Bob Cooney of the Daily News cited a source who said that the team may be forced to do just that at the behest of Simmons’ agent, Rich Paul.
"I just got off the phone with someone I trust who said there's no way his agent will let him play this season" - @BobCooney76 on Simmons— 975TheFanatic (@975TheFanatic) October 3, 2016
While these are just rumors, it wouldn’t be a huge shock if Paul, whose Klutch Sports Group represents stars like LeBron James and John Wall, asked the Sixers to sit him this season. For obvious reasons, there’s an exorbitant amount of money riding on Simmons’ longterm health.
Over the summer, Nike signed the Australian phenom to a five-year, $20 million contract, but performance bonuses could push the deal to over $40 million if Simmons becomes the generational superstar many think he could be. With Kobe Bryant retired and James now on the backend of his career, there’s the potential for Simmons to become the face of Nike as he begins to hit his prime. The thought of that alone is enough to make sure he’s 110 percent healthy before letting him step on the court.
There’s also the tricky nature of the Jones fracture itself. A multitude of players have had multiple procedures to deal with the injury. Brook Lopez had several surgeries to fix a fifth metatarsal fracture originally injured in 2011. C.J. McCollum dealt with the injury twice — once at Lehigh, and like Simmons, before his first NBA season. Julius Randle had a screw placed in his foot after a Jones fracture in high school, but then underwent surgery in January of 2015 to remove it.
All the aforementioned players are at 100 percent now, but recovery time seems to differ from player to player. The last thing Simmons’ wants to do is end up like Kevin Durant, who rushed back from a Jones fracture he suffered prior to the 2014-15 season, only to need another surgery to repair his foot that March.
From Nerlens Noel to Joel Embiid, Philadelphia has always erred on the side of caution, and that won’t change with Simmons’ injury.
The Sixers medical staff will hold him out until they deem him to be completely healthy, regardless of how long it takes. But if they believe his foot will be fully healed in three months time, there’s little reason for him not to play, especially because he has no injury history. Extending the rehabilitation period won’t give him some sort of podiatric immunity.
Rich Paul certainly has every reason to be concerned, as do the Sixers, and I imagine they’ll collaborate to find the best course of action. But if that course of action means Simmons will be fine to play in a regular season game in January, then nothing should stop him from doing so.