Why hasn't Ben Simmons played for Sixers? His foot may not be fully healed

Ben Simmons
Sixers rookie Ben Simmons.

NEW ORLEANS - Now we have a better idea why Ben Simmons hasn't played yet for the 76ers.

The first overall pick in the draft last summer is scheduled to visit the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York next Thursday to determine if his right foot is fully healed, according to several sources.

Sources said that a CT 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 that an inside portion of the bone was not fully mended, according to sources.

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Sixers president Bryan Colangelo addressed the report on Thursday.

"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," Colangelo said in a statement. "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."

Sources said in October that the injury would sideline Simmons for only about three months, in which case he would have returned around January.

A source reiterated that the lack of full healing is not a result of the on-court drills in which Simmons participates. However, the Sixers have held him out of five-on-five scrimmages for fear of further injuring the foot.

The Sixers have said that they wanted him to participate in four to five scrimmages before he plays. But only 26 games remain in the season. So if the doctor isn't comfortable about where Simmons is in the healing process, his ability to scrimmage would most likely be further delayed.

At that point, the Sixers might decide that it's not worth playing him this season because of the possibility that he'll reinjure the foot. With a Jones fracture, there's a higher probability of refracturing the bone compared with a Zone 1 fracture, also known as an avulsion or "chip" fracture.

Cameron Payne may be a prime example of someone rushing back too fast from a Jones fracture. The Oklahoma City guard suffered an acute fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his right foot in September. The fracture was not related to the stress fracture Payne suffered during the season. But it makes you wonder whether he came back too soon from surgery July 25 to repair a Jones fracture.

Kevin Durant is another example. A Jones fracture was diagnosed in his right foot before the start of the 2014-15 season. He made his debut on Dec. 2, 2014, after missing the first 17 games of the season.

He missed time later in December after injuring his ankle. Then he sprained his left big toe in January. In late February 2015 he was sidelined after having a minor procedure to help reduce pain and discomfort in his surgically repaired foot. In March, after having played in just 27 games, he was ruled out the rest of the season after deciding to undergo foot surgery.

Simmons would join Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid as recent Sixers players to miss their entire rookie seasons with injuries if he remains sidelined.

Noel missed the 2013-14 season to rehabilitate an anterior cruciate ligament tear in his left knee. Embiid was sidelined in both the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons because of surgeries to repair the navicular bone in his right foot.

kpompey@phillynews.com

@PompeyOnSixers

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