Report: Ben Simmons' foot might not be fully healed, exam next week

Report: Ben Simmons' foot might not be fully healed, exam next week

Updated: February 17, 12:30 a.m. ET

Ben Simmons' fractured foot might not yet be fully healed — but a local orthopaedic specialist explains why it's not a major concern — and Simmons' next CT scan is scheduled for Feb. 23.

According to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Simmons' previous foot scan on Jan. 23 showed that an inside portion of the bone was not fully healed, which explains why Simmons has yet to make his regular-season debut. 

That's not aligned with the Sixers' update from Jan. 24, which stated Simmons' recovery was progressing on schedule — although the team has neither said the foot is "fully healed" nor given an official timetable for his return. 

ESPN reported last month, citing sources, that the foot had "completely healed."

Later Thursday evening, Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo revealed that Simmons will undergo a CT scan next Thursday as part of the following statement:

"We continue to monitor the recovery of Ben's injury and are employing a conservative and thoughtful approach to his rehabilitative program, basing his return to full basketball activity on the advice and direction of medical professionals,” Colangelo said. “His next CT scan is scheduled for Feb. 23, after which our medical team will thoroughly review and evaluate his status moving forward. Ben's long-term health remains our primary concern."

Simmons suffered the injury on Sept. 30 and initially was expected to miss three months. In October head coach Brett Brown said Simmons would return in January before admitting it was premature to do so.

Simmons has yet to be cleared for 5-on-5 practices, but Brown said Wednesday that the Sixers "do expect [Simmons] to play this year." 

"It is our expectation that he will get on a court," Brown said. "It's moving slowly. It's calculated. We're trying to be very careful."

Which is the prudent thing to do. Virtua Health System's Dr. Mark Schwartz said Thursday some Jones fractures heal within three to four months, and others take four to six months. 

"This is the type of injury you don't want to rush along in terms of return to play," Schwartz said on Comcast SportsNet's Philly Sports Talk.

"Sometimes the scans and the X-rays we take of these fractures lag behind what's really going on inside the body. So the fact that the latest scan didn't show complete healing doesn't mean that it's not going to go on to heal completely. It's just taking a little more time to show up. So I'm not overly concerned at 4½ months that it's not completely healed."

There is real value to playing Simmons this season. The Sixers will want to see what he can do within their system. They'll want to see how he fits with Joel Embiid, with Dario Saric, with the other guards before this year's draft and free agency. But the most important thing, obviously, is not rushing Simmons back out there.

A Jones fracture is a break of the fifth metatarsal, the outermost bone in the foot. Think about the outside of your right foot, close to the pinkie toe. When one is recovering from a Jones fracture, he/she is typically advised not to wiggle the foot or make a circular motion with it. 

Oftentimes a screw is inserted into the foot to fuse the broken bone back to where it should be. On rare occasions, the screw can become dislodged and cause problems. It happened to Julio Jones in 2013.

Full disclosure, I suffered a Jones fracture in my left foot on Nov. 28. Today, Feb. 16, was my first day back in a sneaker. I was told by a well-known foot surgeon that it will take a calendar year until I return to my previous level. Obviously, I'm not a world-class athlete, but I also didn't have as much rehab and care at my disposal as Simmons. 

The point is, the healing process with a Jones fracture is very slow. And running full-speed up and down an NBA court is much different than simply being able to walk normally again after rehab. Plus, the non-use of the foot — you're non-weight-bearing for about three months — leads to other things, like the decrease of muscle in the calf and quad of the affected leg.

Simmons and the Sixers will know more next week.

CSNPhilly.com's Jessica Camerato contributed to this report.

Sixers 2016-17 player evaluation: Richaun Holmes

Sixers 2016-17 player evaluation: Richaun Holmes

Richaun Holmes

Position: Center

Status for 2017-18: Under contract for $1,471,382

Holmes in 2016-17
This year very well could have been a lost season for Richaun Holmes. The 23-year-old center was fourth on the Sixers' depth chart to begin the season, sitting behind top-10 picks Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel. Cracking the lineup, even with Embiid not playing back-to-backs and Noel hurt to start the year, was a daunting task.

Early in the season, Holmes provided solid minutes when he received them, reeling in 12 rebounds in a win vs. the Pacers on Nov. 11 and picking up 11 points and eight boards against the Nuggets on Dec. 5. However, Holmes was sent to the D-League soon after and with centers excelling ahead of him, it seemed his time in Philly may be numbered.

But then Embiid got hurt. This opened the door for consistent playing time for the former second-round pick and he shined. He averaged 7.1 points and 4.8 rebounds in 17.9 minutes during February, then shot up to 14.1 points and 6.8 rebounds over 26.4 minutes in March after Noel was traded. He put up 14 games with double-figure scoring despite eclipsing 30 minutes only four times. 

In all, Holmes proved himself to be a force off the bench for the Sixers, as well as when he got into the starting lineup. In 57 games, he started 17 and averaged 9.8 points and 5.5 rebounds, both increases from his rookie season. He upped his field goal percentage to 55.8 percent and became a viable three-point threat, shooting 35.1 percent, up from 18.2 percent as a rookie. Holmes finished the year with five straight games in double figures as he was one of the only healthy players left on the roster.

Signature game
Soon after returning from the D-League in January, he put up 18 points on 8 for 11 shooting against the Clippers in a win. He also had a double-double against the Wizards in late February after the trade deadline.

However, his signature game is one of two. He had 24 points, 14 rebounds and five assists against the Magic on March 20, giving a tremendous effort over 42 minutes. Nine days later, he had 25 points — a career-high — while facing off against Dwight Howard and the Atlanta Hawks, earning the praise of the veteran center (see below).

Looking ahead to 2017-18
It may have seemed unlikely in early January, but Holmes is likely a rotation piece for the Sixers next season. Noel is gone, Okafor may follow soon and Embiid may have trouble with back-to-backs again next season, although president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo has indicated otherwise. That opens the door for a lot of playing time, including more starts, for the Bowling Green product. 

The Sixers may bring in veteran help at center if Okafor is dealt, but it likely won't deter the 6-foot-10 forward in securing a role for next season. He proved too valuable at the end of the season. The energy Holmes provides is a necessary element to a second-unit and something the Sixers will gladly take next season.

On Holmes
"He's a kid that I remember the first time he stepped on the court with me, he was just like excited. He kept saying, 'Wow, I'm on the floor with Dwight Howard.' He just kept saying he was excited. Just to see his growth from that moment, he plays with such passion, it's great to see especially from a young guy like him. I'm proud of him."

- Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard

"He just sat there and accepted whatever we gave him: go to the D-League, sit there and clap, start, play behind Joel — whatever it was, he accepted. And he did it where it didn't diminish his work ethic, it didn't diminish his ability to coexist within a team. He found ways to improve individually, and he did it with a great level of maturity."

- Sixers head coach Brett Brown

NBA Playoffs: Raptors advance past Bucks despite blowing 25-point lead

NBA Playoffs: Raptors advance past Bucks despite blowing 25-point lead

MILWAUKEE -- DeMar DeRozan scored 32 points and the Toronto Raptors squandered a 25-point lead late in the third quarter before holding on for a 92-89 victory Thursday night over the Milwaukee Bucks to take their first-round playoff series in six games.

Cory Joseph had five points in a 9-0 run in the final 2 minutes, including a 3-pointer with 1:27 left, to help stave off the pesky Bucks.

The Raptors move on to face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals in a series that starts Monday. They'll need to work on finishing off opponents in the second half.

Jason Terry's 3 with 3:06 left gave the Bucks an 80-78 lead, completing an unlikely comeback from the 25-point deficit with 5:16 left in the third quarter. The Raptors looked as if they were on cruise control after DeMarre Carroll's 3 gave them the 71-46 advantage.

Giannis Antetokounmpo spearheaded the second-half rally for Milwaukee. He had 34 points.

But the Bucks finished one comeback short.

The furious effort appeared to sap the energy of the young Bucks. Even Antetokounmpo, a renowned gym rat, looked tired with his hands on hips as he caught his breath during fourth-quarter breaks. He played 47 minutes.

Antetokounmpo finished 13 of 23 from the field but was 2 of 6 in the fourth.

The Raptors could finally breathe easy after DeRozan went 2 of 2 from the foul line with 3.1 seconds to play for a three-point lead. Tony Snell's inbounds pass on the ensuing possession was intercepted by DeRozan (see full recap).

Spurs advance: San Antonio beats Grizzlies in Game 6
NASHVILLE, Tennessee -- Kawhi Leonard scored 29 points, helping the San Antonio Spurs advance to the Western Conference semifinals by beating the Memphis Grizzlies 103-96 Thursday night to take the series 4-2.

The Spurs now have beaten Memphis four of the five playoff series between these teams, and this was San Antonio's second straight win over the Grizzlies in the first round.

Tony Parker added 27 points on 11-of-14 shooting, while LaMarcus Aldridge had 17 points and 12 rebounds. Patty Mills had 10 points off the bench for the Spurs. San Antonio outrebounded Memphis 46-28, with 16 of those offensive boards. That led to 17 second-chance points.

Their semifinal with Houston will start Monday night in San Antonio.

Mike Conley scored 26 points, leading the five Memphis starters in double digits. Marc Gasol added 18, Zach Randolph 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Vince Carter had 12 points (see full recap).