This is the eighth edition of the weekly 76ers mailbag.
Each week, Inquirer.com followers may submit questions and we will pick five to answer every Friday.
Missed out on the party this week? No worries. You can submit your question(s) for next time by following me on Twitter @PompeyOnSixers and tweeting your inquiry with the hashtag #PompeysMailbagFlow.
Let’s jump right into this week’s questions:
Answer: Thanks for the question, Bill. And thanks for getting this newsletter started.
It’s definitely a tough call that I keep going back and forth with. A week ago, I would have said his tenure with the Sixers would disappear as quickly as my mom threw away my stash of old Sports Illustrated magazines the moment I went off to college.
A brother is still heartbroken after all these years. Honestly, I am.
But getting back to your question, I’m a little uncertain now. Here’s why: As much as the Sixers underachieved, no one is talking about that right now. All of the focus is on the coronavirus. No one is discussing how the Sixers’ pieces don’t fit or how players are being used incorrectly. No one is talking about the team sitting in sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
It doesn’t matter and might be forgotten the longer the NBA suspension lasts.
I do think that there’s a good chance that Brown will still lose his job. But there’s something inside of me that keeps saying that a cancellation of the season could help save Brown because of the amount of money the league and team would lose if the season does not resume. Would the Sixers want to be on the hook for the remaining years of his salary, in addition to paying a lucrative contract to a new coach? Or would they give Brown another chance at the start of next season, and decide to part ways if the team continues to struggle a couple of months in?
A: Great question, JQ. Unfortunately, there remains uncertainty and vagueness in regards to Simmons’ back.
The team said he experienced lower-back tightness while grabbing a rebound during practice on Feb. 19, the first practice back from the All-Star break. Simmons received treatment and missed the following day’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
But the next game for the Sixers was on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks, on Feb. 22. He played just 4 minutes, 44 seconds because of what was later diagnosed as a pinched nerve in his back.
Simmons called the lower-back tightness and the pinched nerve unrelated. He also denied that he might have hurt his back in the All-Star Game. The Sixers did announce on March 11 that the two-time All-Star would be reevaluated in three weeks, which would be around April 1.
As for treatment, Simmons would only say that he’s “working on nerves, releasing tension and just getting back to who I was.”
He wouldn’t give a timeline on his return.
This move had been expected, since everyone is encouraged to remain home as part of social distancing in efforts to contain the pandemic. Earlier, the NBA had allowed players to use team facilities for individual on- or off-court workouts and for medical treatment and rehab. But all that changed on Thursday.
A: What’s up, Michael? The Sixers will tell you it has a lot to do with “horses for courses,” as Brown likes to say. Brown has said that O’Quinn’s availability as a reserve center depends on the matchup. If they need a rim protector, the Sixers will elect to utilize Norvel Pelle. They’ll go to O’Quinn on the occasions they need someone more versatile and a solid passer for the position.
But in reality, he didn’t play a lot because of a perceived lack of defensive presence. His playing time also took a major hit in the games Al Horford played solely as the backup center. That basically erased minutes for O’Quinn and Pelle. And now it appears that reserve power forward Mike Scott has moved ahead of O’Quinn and Pelle as the Sixers go to more of a small-ball second unit.
But I must say: O’Quinn has been productive in his limited opportunities.
By the way, I don’t think the CBA would allow O’Quinn to pay Brett, but I get you. Lol!
A: Thanks for asking this question. The layoff would definitely help the Sixers. Think about this: It would give Simmons more time to come back from his lower-back injury. The extended time away would give Brown more time to figure out the best way to correct the spacing issues when Simmons, Embiid, and Horford play together.
Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if Brown is using this time to go over film to see the best way to utilize those three guys. This also gives Josh Richardson time to rest his hamstrings and be further removed from the concussion he suffered. My only concern would be Embiid’s shape after a two-plus-month hiatus.