CAMDEN, N.J. — As the Sixers sort out the uncertainty of the Nerlens Noel situation, one player who clearly is part of their future is Ben Simmons.
The Sixers are pleased with the progress that Simmons is making in his rehab from a right foot fracture suffered in training camp, but president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo reiterated Monday they're not putting a timetable on his expected return.
“The only reason no one’s giving any kind of a date in terms of an anticipated comeback is because we’re not going to rush,” Colangelo said. “We’re not going to do anything to put him in a position to jeopardize his future career or his impact on this organization. When he’s ready, he’s ready.”
The Sixers have been implementing a classroom-style learning element to Simmons’ rehab while he is limited on the court. Last week, he started shooting free throws without a walking boot. He also began joining his teammates on the bench to watch home games.
“He’s done really well,” Colangelo said. “The biggest issue that he has faced is being a little bit disassociated or disconnected from the team. He can’t travel or hadn’t traveled. I don’t anticipate that’s going to change immediately because he’s really right now stepping into a very important part of the rehabilitative process.”
Even if Simmons’ return will take time, the Sixers already have plans for him in their system. They have seen enough of his multi-dimensional skill set to envision how he can impact the team.
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“When he does come in, we’ve got a special piece that we’re going to put into the fold and see exactly what he can bring,” Colangelo said. “We anticipate that’s going to be a pretty big impact.”
Brett Brown has said he envisions Simmons, who entered the NBA as a point-forward, to handle point guard responsibilities. The Sixers recently lost Jerryd Bayless (left wrist surgery) for the season. They signed the veteran this summer as a projected starting point guard to complement Simmons and have turned to Sergio Rodriguez to fill the role.
“A lot of times, a guy like Ben is going to have the ball going up the floor,” Colangelo said. “What you have to do when you have that kind of a player is, you’ve got to put players around him that A, can shoot the ball but B, can be primary ballhandlers in the event that they’re required to bring to ball up. It’s a unique fit and it may factor into our decision making as we look at free agency, the draft, etcetera.”
The Sixers have a lot of work to do to balance their roster. When they do, the 6-foot-10, 250-pound rookie will be a focal point of it.
“We’re going to play with probably a considerable amount of pace (with Simmons),” Colangelo said. “He tends to grab and go ... rebound the ball and push the ball up the floor, pass ahead, all the things that he demonstrated not only in college, but quite clearly in summer league. I think that the desire of this team and this organization to play a certain style of play incorporates some of that. It’s definitely something that we’re going to look forward to.”