Ben Simmons wants to play this season.
He expressed his interest to get back on the court while speaking to the media for the first time since undergoing surgery on a right acute Jones fracture. Dressed in a suit, he addressed his injury before the tip-off of opening night Wednesday.
There had been rumblings that Simmons’ agent, Rich Paul, wanted to keep him out this season. Both Simmons and Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil debunked that thought (see story).
“I’d love to play, definitely,” Simmons said of the 2016-17 season. “As soon as I can get out there, I’d love to play."
Simmons did not give an anticipated return date. He is expected to miss three months with the injury, which involved one screw in the injured bone. Neither the team nor the rookie are in a rush.
“There’s no timetable on getting healthy,” he said. “I’m working every day to get back and as soon as they tell me I can play is when I’ll be out there.”
Simmons has been rehabbing at the Sixers' training complex in Camden, New Jersey. He is able to work on upper-body training and massage to help the blood flow. He is focused on maintaining his strength, and noted his playing weight did not factor into the injury as some speculated. Simmons also has been watching game film and would like to improve his shot during the recovery period.
“It’s a blessing and a curse,” he said. “Obviously it’s not the best start of my career as an NBA player, but I’m looking at it as a positive.”
New to the league, Simmons reached out for insight from other players. The first person he spoke to was Kevin Durant, who suffered the same injury.
“He just said get advice from everybody and I’ll be good,” Simmons said. “It’s good to just reach out to people like that who have gone through it.”
Simmons watched the Sixers' home opener from the locker room, observing with a mix of patience and desire to suit up.
“It was tough just knowing what happened,” he said. “But I’ll have my first game eventually and my time will come.”