WASHINGTON • The Philadelphia 76ers were already likely to go several months before Ben Simmons, who broke his foot on Friday, made his National Basketball Association (NBA) debut.
But could the No. 1 overall pick in June's draft sit out the entire season, which begins on Oct 25?
That is a distinct possibility, according to Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News, who told a radio station there: "I just got off the phone with somebody who I really trust in the NBA, and he's like, 'There's no way his agent is going to let him play this year.' That's an injury that you don't mess around with, and he thinks he's going to keep him off his feet all year."
That agent would be Rich Paul, who also represents Cleveland superstar LeBron James and Washington's John Wall, and thus has a fair amount of clout in league circles.
Given the severity of the injury, Paul and Simmons have reason to want to proceed with great caution, and the recent history of the 76ers indicates that the team would as well, although the tentative timetable has the prized rookie returning in late December or early January.
The 20-year-old Australian fractured the fifth metatarsal of his right foot during the 76ers' final training camp scrimmage and on Sunday, team president Bryan Colangelo said: "It's likely that he's going to require surgery."
Colangelo added that there was "no way" Simmons would be hurried back into action.
In a process that began several years ago under former general manager Sam Hinkie, Philadelphia have undertaken an extraordinarily drawn-out rebuilding effort, one involving the stockpiling of draft picks and other future assets, often at the expense of fielding competitive teams.
That process was expected to take a leap forward this season with the addition of Simmons, plus the arrivals of 2014 selections Joel Embiid, who missed his first two seasons with foot injuries, and Dario Saric, who spent the past two seasons playing in Europe.
The location of Simmons' injury is cause for concern, as players have been known to need multiple procedures for such fractures.