76ers' Elton Brand: Ben Simmons Doing 'Really, Really Well' in Back Injury Rehab

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2020

Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons plays during an NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Philadelphia 76ers general manager Elton Brand said Tuesday he's "very optimistic" point guard Ben Simmons will be ready to play if the 2019-20 NBA season eventually resumes amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Brand told reporters Simmons, who was sidelined in February by a back injury, is doing "really, really well."

The 23-year-old two-time All-Star selection was enjoying a strong campaign for the Sixers before the injury. He averaged 16.7 points, 8.2 assists, 7.8 rebounds and 2.1 steals while shooting 58.5 percent from the field across 54 appearances.

Simmons' status for the remainder of the campaign was in question before COVID-19 halted play with 17 games left on Philly's regular-season schedule.

"I can't give you dates or a timeline," he told reporters March 11. "I'm doing well. Rehab has been great. Progressing, staying in there and doing what I can to come back 100 percent."

He last played in a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Feb. 22. The Sixers posted a 4-4 record in eight games without him before the season was indefinitely delayed.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said April 17 he's not sure whether they'll be able to finish the season.

"I don't mean to send any signals about the likelihood or not of restarting the season," Silver said. "All I can say is we're still at a point where we don't have enough information to make a decision."

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Thursday the 2020-21 season could be pushed back to December to accommodate a late finish to the current campaign.

The Sixers are sixth in the Eastern Conference with a 39-26 record. Getting Simmons back for the stretch run of the regular season could help the team improve its seed and bolster its odds of making a deep playoff run, chances that were fading with him out of the lineup.