May 6, 2020 / 3:16 AM / 3 months ago

76ers GM Brand: Simmons 'close or ready' to return

Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons should be able to return from his back injury when the NBA resumes play, general manager Elton Brand said Tuesday in a conference call with the media.

FILE PHOTO: Apr 6, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) makes a pass against Chicago Bulls forward JaKarr Sampson (41) during the second half at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Simmons sat out his eighth consecutive game on March 11, and that day the team announced he would be sidelined at least three more weeks due to a nerve impingement in his lower back.

That night, the 76ers beat the Detroit Pistons 124-106 in one of the final games before the NBA shut down the season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The regular season had been due to end April 15. Now, the timetable for the NBA to resume action remains uncertain.

However, the time off has allowed Simmons to heal.

“Ben Simmons is doing really, really well,” Brand said. “I give Ben and our medical staff a ton of credit for their hard work throughout his recovery.

“I give Ben so much credit for working so hard through this unknown time. Fortunately, we’ve been able to arrange for him to get treatment and the rehab he needs during this hiatus. I’m very optimistic he’ll be ready to play if and when we’re given that green light to resume.”

Brand added, “It’s tough ... with him not playing three-on-three, five-on-five. ... When I FaceTime him during his workouts and his treatments and I see him, I’d be highly encouraged. His ramp-up would be different.

“We’ve took our time, we’ve been methodical and thoughtful about his recovery and rehab, just to make sure, because we weren’t in a rush. ... He’s been working hard and I know he’d be close or ready.”

Simmons, 23, is averaging 16.7 points, 8.2 assists, 7.8 rebounds and a league-leading 2.1 steals in 54 games this season.

Philadelphia (38-26) is tied for sixth place in the Eastern Conference with the Indiana Pacers.

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