Sixers center Joel Embiid has been slowed by pain in his right knee and wasn’t able to walk for two days after hurting it in the season opener last Wednesday, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. Shelburne made the comments during an appearance on NBA Today (video link), adding that Embiid is determined to continue playing because Ben Simmons isn’t available.
Embiid has appeared in all four of Philadelphia’s games, although he’s averaging career lows so far with 19.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per night. Simmons told the team last week that he’s not mentally ready to play, and it’s uncertain when he might return.
Embiid is also trying to lead by example and is motivated by his second-place finish in last season’s MVP race, Shelburne adds. He appeared in just 51 games in 2020/21, which was one of the arguments some voters made for not supporting him.
Embiid suffered a small meniscus tear in his right knee during the first round of the playoffs, but was able to continue playing until the Sixers were eliminated. The pain flared up after he banged knees with Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas last week, and Shelburne said there’s a feeling that “maybe he should sit a game or two” to help relieve it.
There’s more from Philadelphia:
- President of basketball operations Daryl Morey said this week that “things seem to be moving very much in a positive direction” with Simmons (video link). He added that the team is working with Simmons to provide “every resource to help him with what is needed.”
- Until the Simmons situation is resolved, it will loom as a threat to team chemistry, contends Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Simmons still prefers to be traded, and the rotation is likely to undergo a shakeup whenever that happens. There are also players on the roster who could be headed elsewhere in a Simmons deal. “There’s obviously uncertainty,” Tobias Harris said. “Personally myself, I look at all of the uncertainty as a positive of what could happen. And in reality, the biggest thing is to just stay in the moment.”
- Tyrese Maxey is experiencing “growing pains” as he tries to handle the lead guard role in Simmons’ absence, Pompey adds. Maxey is a combo guard who isn’t used to running the offense, and he didn’t have an assist until the fourth quarter in Tuesday night’s loss to the Knicks.