By Mary Cunningham
The Sixers will be without Ben Simmons until at least January.
ESPN reported late today that while a timeline remains unclear, two things are now known: Simmons will have surgery and the fracture was caused by contact, not stress from the weight Simmons has added:
Philadelphia 76ers prized rookie Ben Simmons is scheduled to undergo surgery next week on the broken bone he suffered Friday in his right foot, according to league sources.
It remains unknown specifically how long the No. 1 overall pick will be sidelined, but sources told ESPN on Saturday that the Sixers and doctors involved believe Simmons suffered an acute injury — caused by landing on another player’s foot — and not a stress reaction.
Simmons told reporters Monday that he weighed 217 pounds before Philadelphia drafted him in June and has gained 33 pounds over the three-plus months since, sparking speculation that the weight increase was a factor.
But sources told ESPN that Simmons weighed in at 240 pounds in July shortly after he was drafted when he played for Philadelphia’s summer league squad in Las Vegas — where he was lauded for his passing eye and movement — and reported to training camp earlier this week at 244 pounds.
So it’s good news that it wasn’t a stress fracture. The timeline for his return is still in the air, which complicates matters. A separate ESPN report indicated that Simmons could be out until sometime between January and February. That would put a major damper on his season, as it would likely take him until March just to get back to NBA conditioning levels.
The fact that Simmons is opting for surgery brings more questions as to whether this is a “Jones” fracture, a specific diagnosis that has had poor recovery outcomes, though Kevin Durant bounced back from just such an injury in 2014-15 to lead the Thunder to the Western Conference finals last season. A Jones fracture brings notoriously high rates of re-injury.
Without Simmons, the 76ers are likely to start Nerlens Noel at power forward, where he struggled last season and there will likely be more minutes for newcomer Dario Saric.