Well, the latest update on the state of Ben Simmons is a vague but concerning one. After re-aggravating his lower back injury in Saturday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks and leaving in the first five minutes, and undergoing various testing over the last couple of days, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has reported that Simmons is still undergoing further evaluation to determine a course of action.
ESPN Sources: Sixers star Ben Simmons is still undergoing treatment and evaluation on his back and there’s expected to be a course of action decided upon soon. This isn’t a day-to-day injury; Simmons will miss time. How much time? That’s still unclear.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 24, 2020
The vague statement that “Simmons will miss time” is certainly concerning. Given how serious back injuries can be and that we still don’t know what the diagnosis is or have any idea what a timetable for return is, it sounds like Simmons may be missing significant time.
In a full report, Wojnarowski noted that, “Simmons’ injury will have longer-term implications than simply the 76ers’ upcoming road trip.” Wojnarowski added that the Sixers and Simmons’ management team are working with doctors, and expect to know their course of action for dealing with Simmons’ back in the next 24 hours.
For now, the Sixers will have to make do with what they have. The roster isn’t built to cope well without Simmons. Besides his elite defense and everything else he brings to the table, his playmaking can’t be replaced at all. In addition to Josh Richardson carrying more ball handling duties (he’s often struggled running point this season, but the Sixers don’t have many options now), Alec Burks, Shake Milton and Raul Neto can all expect to get a shot with increased responsibility as Brett Brown tries to figure out his rotation.
In other injury news, Tobias Harris, who suffered a right knee contusion against the Bucks and stayed in the game, has been upgraded in a flash over the last 24 hours from doubtful to available for tonight’s game against the Atlanta Hawks.
Harris’ injury may not be as serious as Simmons’, but that’s completely beside the point. There’s no need to rush a player back for a February home game against the 17-41 Hawks when a matter of hours ago he was listed as doubtful. What harm can an extra day’s rest do? If there’s any chance Harris could aggravate any discomfort or pain in his knee, he shouldn’t be playing. Yet, for some reason, it seems like the worrying Simmons situation hasn’t changed the Sixers’ mindset.
We’ll have more detailed pieces examining how the Sixers can proceed without Simmons coming soon.