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Sixers' Brown: 'No chance' Simmons plays on Jan. 27

Perhaps this is why Brett Brown said with conviction Wednesday evening that Ben Simmons would not make his debut against the Houston Rockets on Jan. 27.

A couple of hours later, ESPN reported that Simmons could make his debut shortly after the NBA all-star break in late February or early March.

But ESPN also said that the first overall pick in June's NBA draft still might sit out for the entire season. Sources, however, have said that it's almost certain that Simmons will play this season.

Simmons suffered a Jones fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his right foot on Sept. 30, the final day of training camp. He had surgery in October. The 6-foot-10 point guard has been returning to the team's practice facility at night to work on his shooting.

The report said that Simmons began participating in five-on-five drills last week. However, the Sixers have said he has not participated in any full-contact workouts.

Brown ended the speculation about his return against the Rockets.

The rumor started when ESPN announced late Tuesday that it was dropping the Miami Heat-Chicago Bulls game that night to pick up the Sixers' matchup. Shortly afterward, a picture of Simmons was posted on Instagram. Then social media went abuzz with speculation.

"There is no chance," Brown said Wednesday. "I am a social hermit. I have no idea what you are talking about. But I do know there is no chance that he will play then."

Okafor speeding up

For Jahlil Okafor, it's all about making quick decisions.

The 76ers center was eager to do that once he returned to the rotation after being benched for four straight games.

"That's something me and Coach Brown talked about, me going fast," Okafor said. "Just go, whatever happens happens. That was something that he thought I did well [upon returning to the rotation], and something I want to keep improving on."

The 6-11, 265-pounder played his first game in 11 days on Saturday. He started that night against the Wizards, finishing with a game-high 26 points on 10-for-16 shooting. Then Okafor added 10 points on 4-for-5 shooting Monday against the Bucks.

Before those two games, he was relegated to bystander status for nearly two weeks. However, the Sixers showcased him to possible trading partners against the Wizards.

"I know I can't control what's going on," he said of his playing time. "I'm just trying to work as hard as I can for whatever happens."

Randle's last day?

Thursday marks the final day of Chasson Randle's 10-day contract. The point guard made two appearances heading into Wednesday's matchup, averaging 6.5 points, one assist and one steal in 10.7 minutes. He was shooting 3 for 5 on three-pointers.

The Sixers could re-sign him to second 10-day contract on Friday. The team would have to re-sign him for the remainder of the season if it wanted to keep him past that.