76ers' Ben Simmons 'Good to Go' for Restart After Back Injury, Brett Brown Says

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 1, 2020

Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) talks to head coach Brett Brown in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown said Wednesday point guard Ben Simmons will be ready to play when the 2019-20 NBA season resumes at the Disney World complex in Orlando, Florida. 

"He's doing a lot better than [previous tentative comments] would indicate. He's good to go," Brown told reporters. "He's put in a tremendous amount of work."

Simmons was sidelined by a back injury in late February. NBA play was halted March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic and is scheduled to resume July 30.

Before the delay, the 23-year-old LSU product explained he wasn't sure whether he'd return this season because of the lingering back problems.

"It's just something I'm rehabbing now," he said in March. "There's no timeline on it. So whenever I'm back, I'm back. Whenever I'm 100 percent, I'm coming back. I'm not here to just sit out and wait. But when I'm healthy, I'll be playing."

The NBA's four-month hiatus gave him the time to complete his recovery.

Brown confirmed the Sixers don't plan to restrict Simmons when he returns to the court.

"We're going to treat Ben like we maybe would Shake [Milton] or Matisse [Thybulle]. He's good to go," he said. "... We look forward to watching him with what I'm told is effectively 100 percent health."

The Sixers ranked sixth in the Eastern Conference with a 39-26 record when play stopped. They've already clinched a playoff berth, so they can afford to spread out the playing time during the shortened eight-game finish to the regular season to get everyone back up to full speed.

Milton's strong play in Simmons' absence could force Brown into some tough lineup decisions for the postseason. A small-ball group of Simmons, Milton, Josh Richardson and Tobias Harris surrounding center Joel Embiid could be the answer, with Al Horford shifting to the bench.

The 76ers' first game of the restart is slated for Aug. 1 against the Indiana Pacers.