KEY POINTS

  • Sixers have no timetable on a Ben Simmons return
  • Johnson and Stephenson could be worth checking for Philly
  • Simmons injury could be a blessing in disguise

The Philadelphia 76ers suffered a major blow when Ben Simmons went down with a back injury. There is no telling when the 23-year-old will be back in harness, meaning Philly may skim the free-agent market for someone who can pinch-hit in Simmons' absence.

According to ESPN, Simmons suffered a nerve impingement in his lower back and will be sidelined for an extended period. Philly is running 5th in the NBA Eastern Conference but can penetrate the top four. They are only half-a-game behind the Miami Heat (36-21) and it appears they have made adjustments already.

The Sixers have several options in the free-agent market. There are names like Lance Stephenson or Tyler Johnson they can consider adding. Aware that the Sixers lack the firepower from the outside, the Simmons' injury could eventually turn out to be a blessing. Embiid will have better chances of operating inside and the team could add some shooters in the process.

Both Stephenson and Johnson can knock it down from the outside when the opportunity is there. But if head coach Brett Brown wants a long-term fix, the logical choice is Johnson. He is only 27-years-old and someone who can provide a boost to any team if given the chance. He holds career averages of 10.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 301 games. He is also a good three-point shooter with a 35.8 percent clip.

Stephenson could be an option but perhaps short-term. What makes the 29-year-old a slightly better option is that he can also defend well. He also has the experience, having played for teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and the Indiana Pacers. Stephenson is fresh from a stint in China and made it known he wants to continue playing NBA ball in a previous post.

The Sixers have 24 games remaining in the regular season with each game very important. Brown could opt to live with his current crew although handing out a 10-day deal for good measure would not hurt. Philly has the golden chance to resolve its lack of firepower. Simmons' return from injury is unknown and it may be wise for the 76ers to plan ahead with him in the sidelines.

Australian Ben Simmons sparked the Philadelphia 76ers to an NBA pre-season victory over China's Guangzhou Lions on Tuesday from which two spectators supporting Hong Kong freedom were removed from the crowd Australian Ben Simmons sparked the Philadelphia 76ers to an NBA pre-season victory over China's Guangzhou Lions on Tuesday from which two spectators supporting Hong Kong freedom were removed from the crowd Photo: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / ANDY LYONS