Little Sixers nugget today via Sports Illustrated.
This originates from a brief conversation with their NBA Insider, Chris Mannix, who dropped a tidbit about Ben Simmons in a Q&A with Robin Lundberg.
Robin Lundberg: Now, they did have a home court advantage. They played much better at home. Do you think, though, the lack of fans could impact them?
Chris Mannix: I think they were maybe in a different way. I mean, the Sixers I mean, not having to go on the road. Maybe that could be a bad for them as well. I mean, that’s just what it was. Great unknowns as well. I think the biggest question, though, is the health status of Ben Simmons. I spoke to Brett Brown, the Sixers coach, just this week. And Brett told me that while he expects Ben Simmons to play, it’s going to be a case of being brought along slowly. So Ben Simmons isn’t gonna come back and play thirty, thirty-five minutes a night. I think how much he’s able to play and the effectiveness with which he’s able to play with will probably the biggest factor for the Sixers coming back.
In a separate article that was posted later, Mannix shared this Brown quote:
“My opinion, and this is not confirmed yet, is that we are going to be able to inch him back into this,” Brown said. “Is he going to be 100%, I don’t expect that. But I think he is going to be available.”
This isn’t earth-shattering news, just a morsel, though we hadn’t previously heard of any sort of official confirmation or expectation that Simmons would actually be healthy for the NBA’s return to play.
For what it’s worth, the last official correspondence we had with Brown resulted in this quote about Simmons’ health,
“With Ben, for those of you who remember in Milwaukee (when the injury happened), that was as disturbing a memory as it relates to a player that I can think of. He’s lying on his back, he’s vomiting primarily because of pain, and trying to get him back on the plane, and build him back up to some level of healthy so he can play basketball with us again – that timeline was always an interesting one. His health obviously ruled the day, but the effort he’s put in, given where he was, and the significance – he hurt his back in a real way – the effort he’s put in under restrictions on top of us, he is to be praised and applauded in a real way, in a significant way. The professionalism and discipline that he has shown, having that pass to get into the facility (and rehab), he’s teed off on that. He’s been outstanding. It could be a little bit of a silver lining of this pandemic, being able to get somebody as important as Ben back into our team.”
No timeline provided in that quote, so hearing that he “expects Ben Simmons to play” and “thinks” he is going to be available is of course good news for Sixers fans.
If you go back to that Bucks game, which took place on February 22nd, it would be five months and eight days between the back injury and the scheduled return to play in Orlando. Simmons has been rehabbing like crazy and looks fit and healthy in the gym, so we’ll see if he’s good to go when team activities resume.