ATLANTA — Sixers coach Brett Brown will tell you that Jonathon Simmons has not been forgotten.
But the reserve swingman, a strong defender, has played in only three of the 76ers’ last 10 games and a total of 13 since being acquired in a trade with the Orlando Magic on Feb. 7. The Sixers acquired him along with a protected first-round pick and a second-rounder for Markelle Fultz.
“I think at times, it’s one of the buyer’s-remorse questions I have from the other night,” Brown said of playing Simmons only the final four minutes of Monday’s blowout loss to the Dallas Mavericks. “Could I have played him, and put him on the ball? I ended up going with Zhaire [Smith].”
Brown said that Simmons hasn’t been healthy for much of the season. He was coming off a wrist injury when the Sixers acquired him. The coach also pointed out that he joined a new team late.
“Really, he hasn’t been given much opportunity,” Brown said.
However, Simmons and James Ennis III, another Feb. 7 trade acquisition, were battling for a spot in the postseason rotation.
“James kind of went ahead, some based on performance and some based on bigger guards and matchup reasons,” Brown said. “It’s sort of been going that way.”
Ennis, though, left in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s 130-122 road loss to the Atlanta Hawks with a right thigh bruise and didn’t return. He was hobbling on the court before leaving the game.
This was his second game back after missing two games with the bruise. The Sixers will host the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night at Wells Fargo Center. We’ll see if Ennis’s nagging injury opens up minutes for Simmons.
But Simmons, 29, has kept a positive attitude, despite the lack of minutes. He said he’ll be ready whenever his number is called.
“I’ve been here before,” the undrafted fourth-year veteran said. “It’s nothing new to me.”
His competitiveness is eating him up. He wants to be out there and help his teammates win.
“But ... it’s all about opportunity at this point and whatever the team needs of me,” he said.