Brett Brown: ‘Very Ambitious' to Say No Minutes Restrictions for Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid

CAMDEN, N.J. -- The excitement level for the Sixers is sky high.

After the team traded up with the Boston Celtics to acquire the No. 1 pick and select Markelle Fultz, fans began envisioning the Washington guard on the floor with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.

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But with all these tantalizing thoughts comes a caveat: If they're healthy.

Unfortunately for the Sixers, that's been a pretty big "if." Embiid has played in 31 NBA games since being drafted in 2014. Issues with the navicular bone in his right foot caused him to miss his first two NBA seasons and a torn meniscus in his left knee cut his rookie season short. Simmons didn't see the court at all after suffering a Jones fracture in his right foot at the end of training camp.

"I think both Ben and Joel are on course for recovery," president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said Friday. "We're going to summer league and we're going to try to look and see as many of the young players and how they're developing and what their health status is.

"Opening training camp, we'll look to have a full roster. And when the health, medical and performance staff tells us we're ready to go, we'll go."

Over the past year, Sixers fans have unfortunately become familiar with the term "minutes restriction." Not only was Embiid subject to those, he also wasn't allowed to play on back-to-back nights. So the fear now is that Embiid and Simmons, both coming off injuries, will be in the same situation going into the 2017-18 season.

Head coach Brett Brown didn't seem too optimistic that the team's two franchise cornerstones would play without limitations.

"I think it's ambitious [to think there will be no restrictions]," Brown said Friday at the Sixers practice facility. "We've all been around NBA basketball for a while now and I think that if that could happen, that's amazing. I think to set our sights on that being a reality is very ambitious. And so be it. It doesn't at all alter the plan, the path, the purpose of what we're still trying to grow our program around.

"But I think on gut feel, first glance, it's ambitious."

To no one's surprise, Colangelo has said Embiid and Simmons won't participate in summer league play. When pressed on the issue, Colangelo wouldn't commit to the idea of both players being on the floor without limitations when the regular season starts.

Fans may have to temper their excitement at the idea of a team with no minutes restrictions. The pieces appear to be in place to build a special team, but alas, another "if."

"If that's what the training, medical and performance staff tells us, then that's going to be the case," Colangelo said of Simmons and Embiid playing without limitations. "We want these guys to maintain and sustain their health for a long career, not just that particular game."

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