CHARLOTTE - It appears the chances of seeing Ben Simmons in a 76ers uniform this season are getting slimmer and slimmer.
Last week, coach Brett Brown stated that for Simmons to be ready for game activity, the first overall pick would have to play more than five 5-on-5 games. Asked pregame at the Spectrum Center whether Simmons would start playing some more and get to the 5-on-5 area, Brown didn’t hesitate with his answer about the rookie who fractured his foot on the last day of training camp on Sept. 30.
“I don’t think so,” Brown said. “I feel like he’s moving forward, but to say that we believe he’s going to be ready for 5-on-5 during the All-Star break would be misleading. I don’t see that.
“He is moving forward but it’s at a very slow pace, our pace. I think when we all get back and he’s around the team again, because it’s not an ideal situation to manufacture 5-on-5 during a break, then we can better craft and construct to allow the return to play to be more responsible.”
After Wednesday’s game in Boston, the team won’t play again until Feb. 24. That will leave the team with 26 remaining games in the season, which includes a West Coast trip and another six-game streak away from home. It would be hard to imagine Simmons getting in any practicing when the team is on the road, so it's getting obvious that the time for him to make his debut is shrinking rather quickly.
The thoughts/hopes of many were that Simmons would be able to make an appearance at some point after the break. But the 6-10 passing wizard hasn’t been traveling with the team lately in what has been a heavy travel month and if his coach doesn’t see it fit for him to be playing with below NBA talent, the possibility of him playing this season seems to be slight, at best.
Asked last week if he would like to see Joel Embiid and Simmons on the floor together this season, president Bryan Colangelo quickly said yes, that evaluating the two of them together to see what sort of pieces the team should surround those cornerstones with was paramount.
Embiid will miss the remaining two games before the All-Star break and not participate in any of the weekend activities in New Orleans. After Wednesday, the 7-2 center will have missed 11 consecutive games and 14 of the past 15 as he rests the bone bruise and minor meniscus tear in his left knee.