Stop us if you've heard this one before.
The Sixers have continued to lessen expectations as to when, or whether, first overall draft pick Ben Simmons will suit up this season.
Initially when he had surgery during the preseason — which was by all accounts successful — to repair a broken toe, Simmons was projected to return sometime in 2017.
In January it was surmised by GM Bryan Colangelo and others that the All-Star break was a good milestone and that Simmons could hit the floor just afterward. He's been practicing and traveling with the team for weeks, but now, next week seems like a pipe dream.
Now, it seems doubtful that he will even play in 2017 at all.
"He is moving forward," Sixers head coach Brett Brown told reporters,"but it's at a very slow pace, our pace. I think when we all get back and he's around the team again, because it’s not an ideal situation to manufacture 5-on-5 during a break, then we can better craft and construct to allow the return to play to be more responsible."
There will come a point at which they close up shop and shut him down for the season. The same happened with Nerlens Noel a few seasons ago, along with Joel Embiid. Both were, according to the team at the time, working toward making a late season debut and neither wound up playing.
Simmons recently turned 20-years-old and would relinquish rookie status in 2017-18 by playing. The Sixers won't be playoff contenders, so there isn't a winning-incentive to rush him back, but having him get some experience with Embiid and his teammates on the floor would be very beneficial. This is especially trueas the Sixers face an important draft and an unclear future as far as roles and playing chemistry goes.