The Sixers medical staff and front office team has a mess on its hands.
It would be one thing if their young stars, players like Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, were injured and fans were told what was happening. If there was a concrete and public plan for recovery, return and eventual competition.
But instead the team — in an act of Lucy-like swindling — keeps pulling the proverbial football out from Charlie Brown's foot.
After the goal posts on Embiid's return were moved from the All-Star break to missing two games to missing four games, the Sixers announced Monday afternoon that he was out indefinitely with a knee ailment.
"Embiid presented with swelling and soreness in his left knee following training progression in recent days," the Sixers' PR staff said in a release. "Based on this new information, Embiid will now be listed as out indefinitely. He is scheduled to undergo an MRI this afternoon to further assess his status."
The Sixers did the same with Ben Simmons, who's return was expected in January from a toe injury, then in February and then after the All-Star break. He was said to have gained medical clearance and was on track to return to the floor — even head coach Brett Brown said so.
But then, this weekend, Bryan Colangelo told reporters he was shut down for the season.
And Monday, the Sixers revealed there was a setback they never mentioned.
"This morning Simmons underwent a minor procedure during which bone marrow was injected into the affected fracture site in order to stimulate bone growth and accelerate healing. He is likely to resume normal training by the end of the week."
Embiid's shutdown seems imminent. He posted incredible, Rookie of the Year numbers in 31 games, playing just 25 minutes per game but averaging more than 20 points per contest. He hasn't played since Jan. 27.
The Sixers have a financial reason to lie about Embiid and Simmons' health. The more fans think one of the young stars will return and appear in a game, the more tickets they'll sell.
But the bottom line shouldn't outweigh honesty. Sixers fans know, after Nerlens Noel's trade to the Mavericks last week, that Philly is in the midst of tanking, year four. The Sixers will have one, possibly two, top five draft picks and the entire process will play out once again this draft lottery as the team — supposedly — prepares to actually compete again in 2017-18.
With the ineptitude displayed by management this season though, it's hard to trust that the team knows what it's doing.