Ben Simmons injured his knee, and the 76ers didn’t hide their concerns.
This is serious.
Serena Winters of NBC Sports Philadelphia:
Ben Simmons UPDATE:
Ben will undergo surgery in the coming days to remove a loose body in his L knee, which resulted from a left patella subluxation he suffered in Wednesday’s game.
He will leave the NBA Campus in Orlando for the surgery. #Sixers
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) August 8, 2020
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
While the Sixers haven’t ruled Simmons out for the season, sources say it would take a deep run into the playoffs to keep the door open on the possibility of a return — and that’s still an iffy proposition. For now, the Sixers need to prepare for a postseason without Simmons.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 8, 2020
Obviously, the surgery itself is a setback. If Simmons becomes healthy enough to return before Philadelphia gets eliminated, he could be required to quarantine in his hotel room – which would limit rehab and training.
And of course it will be difficult for Philadelphia to advance deep into the playoffs without Simmons.
There are even graver concerns beyond this season. Will Simmons now be more susceptible to future injuries? This could derail a budding championship contender with Joel Embiid and Simmons.
Embiid already has long-term health concerns. It was always uncertain how long Philadelphia’s window would remain open despite Embiid and Simmons being so young.
Even next season could be perilous. How long will Simmons take to recover? Next season could be right around the corner (or not). If the 76ers’ outlook looks worse – especially amid the economic downturn caused by coronavirus – they could no longer follow through on their plan to pay the luxury tax. Slashing payroll could further reduce the roster’s effectiveness.
Already, expectations shrink this season without Simmons. Philadelphia appears increasingly likely to land the No. 6 seed and a tough first-round series against the Celtics (rather than a spot in the 4-5 series against the Heat or Pacers).
Will these difficult circumstances give 76ers coach Brett Brown more leeway to keep his job? Or do they just make it more likely the 76ers lose early in the playoffs and fire him?
He has plenty of options for proceeding without Simmons. Simmons was a multi-positional star who spent most of the season at point guard but had been playing power forward in the bubble.
Without Simmons, Al Horford moved back into the starting lineup, and Mike Scott – who had been out with a knee injury – joined the rotation. Glenn Robinson III could also get an expanded role once he’s healthy.
Many sans-Simmons lineups could give Philadelphia more spacing around Embiid, which makes the star center even more dangerous.
But this loss of talent can’t be offset and significantly lowers the 76ers’ ceiling this season and maybe reduces their odds of reaching their ceiling in future seasons.