The Sixers tank-athon could last yet another season longer than first anticipated.
The team's future will once again, after a season without Nerlens Noel and two without Joel Embiid, take a step back as the team waits at least three months, if not more for first pick Ben Simmons to recover from foot surgery.
"It's like a punch in the stomach," Sixers' head coach Brett Brown said after the news of his broken foot hit the airwaves. "How can it not be? There's been no team to have more injuries to draft picks than we have."
Philly will have some bright new faces in Dario Saric and the aforementioned and finally healthy Embiid, but seeing how the team will operate in the future with their star point-forward running the offense will have to wait.
Waiting is something the Sixers and their fans have become all too accustom to.
Team officials have made it clear they will not rush Simmons back and the injury could cost the LSU product all of 2016-17.
"I feel very badly for Ben to be in a situation to start his career this way. But this is an injury that he should come back from and have a very successful and long career,'' Sixers' team resident Bryan Colangelo said.
There is a small spot of good news. Good news if you were a Sam Hinkie fan at least.
In addition to having their own pick in the 2017 draft — one that is expected to be pretty solid — Philly also will get the Lakers pick should L.A. finish outside the top 3 of the draft order.
And should the Sixers somehow piece together a handful of wins and play themselves out of a reasonable shot at the top spot in the lottery, the club still holds the right to swap first rounders with the Sacramento Kings, a team that is also struggling to rebuild.
This all means that next season, potentially, the Sixers could get yet another influx of raw talent in the form of two top 5 draft picks (if everything falls right), and a healthy Ben Simmons.
There is an overwhelming chaotic feeling surrounding the future of the Sixers. They are jam-packed with big men, Embiid, Noel, Jahlil Okafor and the 6-foot-10 forward Saric. It is unlikely all of these pieces will remain when the team finally starts to contend. So consider 2016-17 an extension of the Hinkie/tank-athon with a twist — we'll at least get to see the team grow and configure its front court to pair with Simmons and guards who are yet to arrive.
Patience, yet again, is key.