Joel Embiid put off foot surgery this summer to party and play basketball in Las Vegas this summer, and the Sixers have been frustrated with his attitude and insubordination, sources detailed to Brian Geltzeiler of SI.com’s The Cauldron. Sixers majority owner Josh Harris didn’t want Embiid to accompany the Sixers to the Las Vegas Summer League in July, preferring that Embiid undergo the surgery doctors prescribed for his slow-healing right foot, and Harris instructed GM Sam Hinkie and Brett Brown to ensure he didn’t attend. Neither kept the former No. 3 overall pick from traveling to Las Vegas, multiple sources tell Geltzeiler. Embiid didn’t appear in games, but he shot jumpers and dunked on the side and refused to wear a medically prescribed walking boot, Geltzeiler hears. Surgery didn’t take place until August.
Hinkie has expressed a desire for Embiid to be more focused in his rehab, but he said around the time of Embiid’s surgery that the center had adhered to the recovery plan laid out for him. Embiid’s diet and conditioning have nonetheless worried the Sixers, multiple sources tell Geltzeiler, who also hears that Embiid physically threatened a Sixers strength coach last season.
Sixers majority owner Josh Harris remains firmly in Hinkie’s corner in spite of the issues regarding Embiid and other concerns around the team, but sources suggested to Geltzeiler that others within the ownership structure are losing patience. Last season’s Michael Carter-Williams trade riled and surprised Brown, multiple league sources tell Geltzeiler, though Sean Deveney of The Sporting News reported in the spring that while Brown didn’t fully support the move, the tension between him and Hinkie was minimal.
Geltzeiler’s sources also say Scott O’Neil, who sits atop the team’s business operations as its CEO, was angry and caught off guard by the trade, as he’d planned to market around Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel. However, Sixers spokesperson Michael Preston denied any discord surrounding the move, calling it “unsubstantiated rumor” and “a gross mischaracterization of the events” in an email response to Geltzeiler’s inquiry. O’Neil said in a recent interview with Jake Fischer of SI Now that the team’s business department has come to terms with the trade and is excited about the club’s assets for the long term, which include a future first-round pick from the Lakers that came in that same Carter-Williams deal (Twitter link).
Dario Saric, another of Philadelphia’s prospects for the future, remains under contract with Turkey’s Anadolu Efes, and his father is pushing the Sixers away, a source tells Geltzeiler. Saric has denied that his father is exerting undue influence. Saric and the Sixers both reportedly wanted him to join Philadelphia in time for this season, but the first escape clause in his deal isn’t until next summer.