Latest Simmons injury twist is bad news for Sixers fans


Buckle up, Sixers fans, because you're never going to believe the latest developments around Ben Simmons' readiness to return to the court.

The former Sixers star and current Nets benchwarmer was reportedly "ramping up" just a week ago ahead of a return that seemed just a few weeks away, according to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne.

Yet news came tumbling out of Nets camp - and likely Klutch Sports camp - on Saturday evening of a reported setback that Simmons suffered during his reconditioning process that could cause him to miss the Nets' March 10 matchup in Philadelphia with Simmons' old team. 

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Interesting timing.

Here's what The Athletic's Shams Charania reported Saturday evening:

Okay, sure.

For starters, it's a little too transparent for Charania's sources to be specifically discussing March 10 as it relates to the injury. If you're talking about an injury to one of your franchise's most important long-term pieces, a game in 12 days shouldn't really be front-of-mind, and yet there it is in Charania's follow-up tweet. Feels a little odd.

And if a conveniently-timed back soreness flare-up sounds familiar from Simmons, it's because he reportedly dealt with the same thing in late October, when he'd returned to Philly to be with the team and was reportedly expected to participate in shootaround before the Sixers' home opener. It was a tepid step, but a step, towards returning to team activities with his teammates. Then Simmons disclosed he was dealing with back soreness.


Is it possible Simmons is really dealing with back soreness? Of course! He hasn't played in a game since June 2021 (which is his own doing), and any athlete trying to get back into game shape could pull, tweak, or otherwise irritate something in that process.

But it's just a little too on-the-nose for Simmons' "ramp up" to suddenly get sidetracked the day after James Harden's Sixers debut was as glorious as it could've been, and with the March 10 game looming large.

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Who's to say, I guess? 

Simmons said in his introductory press conference that he "hoped" to play March 10 against his old team:

But Simmons' former teammate Danny Green called that bluff on his most recent podcast:

"First, I'd be highly surprised if he even plays in that game. I don't know where his health is - mentally, physically, I know he had other issues - and we all know he does not like to play in Philly. So if he does play in that game, I'd be highly surprised."

I'd be absolutely blown away if Simmons played on March 10. He has a built-in excuse to avoid actually checking in, so why wouldn't he take it? And at this point, with the hype machine in full swing and threatening to run away, it might be the smart thing to do for him and for the Nets. It's going to be a circus. I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't even attend the game.

But at some point, whether it's in a week and a half or in the playoffs or next season, Simmons is going to have to play in Philadelphia. He's 25 years old and he now plays for a team in the same division as the Sixers. Rip the band-aid off, let Sixers fans boo you, and move on with your life - for everyone's sake.

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