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.