The Sixers have found themselves surrounded by a spiderweb of their own mistakes over the past few weeks, with GM Bryan Colangelo surrendering a lot of the goodwill earned by the team’s hot stretch in January. Today’s latest news might explain why Ben Simmons hasn’t seemed all that close to making his debut.
According to the Inquirer’s Keith Pompey, Simmons’ foot may not have been fully healed when he went for his foot scan in late January:
Sources said that a foot scan on Jan. 23 showed that his foot was not fully healed.
Simmons suffered a Jones fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his right foot on Sept. 30, the final day of training camp. The January doctor's visit revealed an inside portion of the bone wasn't fully mended, according to sources.
Sources said back in October that injury would only sideline him about three months, in which case he would have returned around January.
A source reiterated that Simmons' foot not being fully healed isn't a result of the on-court drills in which he participates. However, the Sixers have held him out of participating in five-on-five scrimmages for fear of further injuring the foot.
Simmons being behind schedule with his recovery is not necessarily the worst thing in the world. It would have been a bummer, but there was no need to rush him back this season, so a setback — or slower healing than expected — is not necessarily dire news.
Where the Sixers run into a problem is, once again, misleading the public. Prior to the scan taking place, Bryan Colangelo claimed it would be his final scan:
Bryan Colangelo tells @CSNPhilly that Ben Simmons should be getting a final scan on Monday. No specific timetable, but return "soon enough."— Brian Seltzer (@brianseltzer) January 22, 2017
This was directly contradicted by what The Intelligencer’s Tom Moore had to say after the scan was conducted:
Told wasn't a final scan, not that he didn't have one. https://t.co/rdFVkGzA7G— Tom Moore (@tmoore76ers) January 24, 2017
After it was done, the announced Simmons’ recovery was on schedule:
Medical update:— Philadelphia 76ers (@Sixers) January 24, 2017
Simmons had planned scan in NY yesterday. Recovery progressing as expected, still no timetable for return to play.
Here’s what Pompey reported / was told by the team on the same day:
Ben Simmons' scan showed no setbacks.— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) January 24, 2017
Pompey doubled down on that with a full article on the 24th, with quotes from Coach Brown included in the story.
ESPN’s Chris Haynes, one of the league’s most plugged-in reporters, wrote a piece on Simmons’ possible debut just days before the scan took place (bold emphasis mine):
Barring a setback in his recovery, sources say the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft has a chance to take the hardwood near March. There still remains the possibility that Simmons sits the entire season, sources said, but his situation will continue to be thoroughly evaluated throughout his comeback quest.
During training camp, Simmons, 20, fractured the fifth metatarsal bone of his right foot and was ruled out indefinitely following surgery. His foot has completely healed, sources said.
Even the Sixers themselves were jubilant about Simmons’ recovery. This story — assuming they keep it up — was written by Sixers.com’s Brian Seltzer on January 24 (bold emphasis mine):
While the 76ers were conducting practice Monday in Camden, New Jersey, Ben Simmons was in New York City, getting the latest check-up on the right foot he fractured in September.
The results of the scan, which Bryan Colangelo told Comcast SportsNet over the weekend he hopes will be the last one Simmons undergoes, were clean. All signs indicated the number one pick from this past year’s draft will be able to proceed with his comprehensive rehab regimen as planned, and move closer to towards returning.
‘I’m just really really happy with the path and plan that we have in place for him to-date,’ Brown said Tuesday, about 90 minutes before the Sixers and Los Angeles Clippers tipped off at The Center. ‘His path, I think, is meticulous, from what he does with the physiotherapist, to what he does with our shooting coach, to what he does in a classroom type atmosphere with video.’
Common sense and rumblings around Philadelphia suggested a full heal may not have taken place, but Pompey’s report adds additional substance to the rumors. There has been some debate about how to label the Sixers’ slow leak of information over the last month and a half. A lot of people have settled on “misleading” as a softer version of what they’ve been doing, but if this information is true, the Sixers are flat-out lying to the public. They lied to reporters, they lied to the fans, and they continued to double down on the initial lie in every conversation about Simmons following the scan.
Their motivation to do so is unclear beyond the hope that they’d use the No. 1 overall pick’s looming return to sell tickets. The team doesn’t gain any competitive advantage by pretending Simmons’ recovery wasn’t moving at the rate they’d hoped, and it looks like self-serving BS to preserve PR momentum during a fun stretch of basketball. Information was hidden, and doing so served no legitimate purpose.
We have suggested here several times over that (until recently) Bryan Colangelo and the new regime deserved the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise. On some fronts, like the draft, that is still the case. And this is not just a Colangelo problem — following the Bynum saga, the team has disregarded public timelines in totality to avoid over-promising.
But until Colangelo and the rest of the people in charge of this franchise prove they have any level of respect for the truth when it comes to reporting injuries, you can take the team’s word with a grain of salt. Lyin’ Bryan is at it again. Sad!
UPDATE: The Sixers provided the following statement from GM Bryan Colangelo on today’s Ben Simmons news:
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. His next CT scan is scheduled for February 23, after which our medical team will thoroughly review and evaluate his status moving forward. Ben's long-term health remains our primary concern.