Ben Simmons has overcome a back injury and is raring to get back out on the court for the Philadelphia 76ers if the NBA season resumes.
ESPN reported on Tuesday (local time) issues with back nerves that forced the Australian to miss games after February’s All-Star game has all but dissipated and he is “dying to get out there” and play.
“If the season resumes we’re expecting to have him,” a team source said.
The coronavirus pandemic forced the NBA to suspend the season indefinitely on March 11 when Utah Jazz centre Rudy Gobert tested positive.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told reporters last week he could not say if the season will re-start, or whether it would be abandoned.
The league is waiting for more data and direction from health experts and are open to finishing the season later in the year – beyond the traditional June dates for the NBA Finals.
The break could be a positive for Simmons and the 76ers, allowing them to regroup.
The team, a favourite to make the championship series, had dropped to sixth in the Eastern Conference and were woeful on the road, winning just 10 of 34 away games.
Simmons’ injury also gave him the added benefit, per NBA rules, of being allowed to visit the Sixers’ practice facility for treatment during the coronavirus lockdown.
A steady diet of exercise and practice has been broken up with a bit of fun, with the point guard taking to posting challenges on social media to break up the monotony.
Loser takes a shot of fish sauce or cinnamon 😂 hit the link to watch https://t.co/neHOPeplII
— Ben Simmons (@BenSimmons25) April 21, 2020
ESPN reported Simmons had undergone water rehab, training on a weightless treadmill and was participating in a shooting and a regulated weight-training program.
He also ordered a basketball hoop online for the driveway of his new New Jersey home and has been getting up shots.
“He’s feeling strong,” a member of Simmons’ camp said.
“The original restrictions were very limiting, but all of them have been removed.
“He would probably need another scan, so the doctors could officially clear him, but there’s been no setbacks.
“He’s dying to get out there.”