Joel Embiid

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Kanter, Robinson, Musa

Sixers center Joel Embiid is joining forces with team managing partner Josh Harris and co-managing partner David Blitzer on a $1.3MM contribution to fund testing for 1,000 health care workers in the Philadelphia region, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reports. The donation has been confirmed in a team press release.

Embiid said he learned that “testing for COVID-19 antibodies has the chance to let health care workers know if they are immune to the virus.” The big man notes that the workers who have immunity can work in “risky environments” and donate blood to help patients recover. Embiid’s partnership with team ownership should quell speculation that he has a fractious relationship with the organization which could eventually lead to his departure.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics center Enes Kanter remains hopeful that the remainder of the season, or at least the playoffs, can be played, The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach writes. “We are competitors man, so we want to go out there and finish the season,’‘ Kanter said on Zoom. “Especially, like, it’s crazy — we actually have a really good chance to go out there and win a championship.”
  • Knicks center Mitchell Robinson might have the league’s most team-friendly contract, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. The big man has a $1.66MM salary for next season with a $1.8MM team option for 2021/22, Berman notes. The Knicks’ net rating improves by 5.3 points per 100 possessions with Robinson on the court, Berman adds.
  • The Nets’ European players — Dzanan Musa, Rodions Kurucs and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot — have been separated from their families indefinitely during the coronavirus pandemic, Brian Lewis of the New York Post notes. Travel restrictions prevent them from reuniting with their families. “They are coping, and their families are coping with this. But that’s really difficult,” Nets GM Sean Marks said. “Their families are completely separated. They’re not in the same time zone, they’re in completely different countries, and obviously there is a travel ban in place.”

Atlantic Notes: Walker, Smart, Embiid, Raptors

Kemba Walker‘s left knee is feeling better, but the Celtics guard won’t know how it’s going to respond to competition until he gets to test it against someone, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. Walker has gotten plenty of time to rest since the league shut down three weeks ago.

“The knee is doing well,” he said. “It’s difficult because I don’t have anyone around to give me treatments or anything like that. I have to do my own stuff, which I’m trying to do as much as possible; try to stay on top of things.”

Walker developed swelling in the knee during the All-Star break. He had it drained, then received a shot of Synvisc to ease the soreness and minimize swelling. He’s waiting out the hiatus like everyone else and hoping for a chance to try out the knee under game conditions.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Now that Celtics guard Marcus Smart has recovered from the coronavirus, he will donate blood in hopes that it will help to find a treatment for COVID-19, according to ESPN. Three other players who tested positive for the virus also plan to make blood donations, but they haven’t been identified. The league office reached out to team doctors over the weekend to encourage players who tested positive to give blood samples to the National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project.
  • Joel Embiid‘s response to a plan by Sixers majority owner Josh Harris to reduce some employees’ salaries while the league is shut down raises questions about his long-term future with the team, suggests Bob Ford of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Harris changed his mind about the pay cuts, but not before Embiid made a public offer to help everyone who would have been affected. Ford claims Embiid’s relationship with the organization has always been “fractious” and states that embarrassing the owner may lead to an eventual parting.
  • In a conference call with reporters, Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri said potential extensions for himself and coach Nick Nurse won’t be discussed while the league is on hiatus (Twitter link from Eric Koreen of The Athletic). The team is currently paused with no talk of extensions or contracts for anyone, adds Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports (Twitter link). “It’s not where our minds are at right now,” Ujiri said. “This is a crucial time for the world. Those things will come.”

Sixers Reverse Course On Reducing Employees’ Salaries

Sixers ownership has reversed course on a plan to reduce certain employees’ salaries, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

Full-time 76ers employees who earn at least $50K annually were informed on Monday that their salaries would be temporarily reduced by up to 20% as the NBA remains on hiatus, as Marc Stein of The New York Times details. Those employees were told that the new measures would apply to pay checks from April 15 through June 30, with health benefits and 401(k) plans unaffected, says Stein.

Sixers majority owner Josh Harris, whose Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment also owns the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, confirmed those plans in a statement today, but indicated they won’t be moving forward.

“Our commitment has been to do our best to keep all of our employees working through this very difficult situation. As part of an effort to do that we asked salaried employees to take a temporary 20% pay cut while preserving everyone’s full benefits — and keeping our 1,500 hourly workers paid throughout the regular season,” Harris said. “After listening to our staff and players, it’s clear that was the wrong decision. We have reversed it and will be paying these employees their full salaries.”

The measures, which have now been nixed, wouldn’t have affected any players. They also wouldn’t have applied to employees on contracts, including members of the coaching staff or certain front office executives, Stein notes. Only “at-will” employees would have been required to accept the salary reductions, Wojnarowski adds (via Twitter).

However, according to Stein, some additional members of the organization had been asked to participate in the rollbacks as well — Sixers GM Elton Brand was among those who had agreed to take a temporary pay cut. Wojnarowski tweets that coaches and executives whose salaries couldn’t be unilaterally cut were initially given until Thursday to agree to a salary reduction of 20%. Per Woj, many were reluctant to give back that money, particularly since their employment situations beyond this summer are uncertain.

As Wojnarowski tweets, other team owners were keeping an eye on the situation in Philadelphia. Those owners were weighing their own desire to save money against the potential PR backlash that such a move would generate. Presumably, based on the negative PR the 76ers faced and the quick reversal that followed, no other teams will immediately enact similar plans.

Sixers part-owner Michael Rubin actually contributed to that PR backlash that helped push the club to change its plans — Shams Charania of Stadium (video link) reports that Rubin wasn’t believed to be part of the decision to reduce employees’ salaries and was said to be “upset” and “outraged” by it.

Meanwhile, before the 76ers’ change of heart, star center Joel Embiid announced that he’s pledging $500K to COVID-19 medical relief efforts in the community and that he was committed to helping Sixers employees who would suffer financial hardship in light of the team’s salary reductions (Twitter link via Ramona Shelburne of ESPN). With the Sixers no longer planning to reduce employees’ salary, Embiid’s financial commitment beyond that $500K for coronavirus purposes no longer appears necessary.

Joel Embiid Set To Return For Sixers

Sixers center Joel Embiid has been cleared to return to action on Wednesday night against Detroit, tweets Rich Hofmann of The Athletic. Embiid had been sidelined since February 26 due to a left shoulder sprain.

A report last week indicated that Embiid was targeting today’s game vs. the Pistons for his return. He participated in practice on Tuesday, increasing his chances of making it back tonight. Josh Richardson, who has been in the NBA’s concussion protocol, has also been cleared to return.

Although the 76ers are getting a couple of key contributors back, the team will still be without Ben Simmons for the foreseeable future. Philadelphia issued a press release earlier today indicating that Simmons’ back injury will keep him on the shelf for at least the next three weeks. While the Sixers hope their All-Star guard can return before the postseason, that three-week timeline means he’ll be out until at least April.

Injury Updates: Aldridge, DSJ, Celtics, Sixers, Bagley

A pair of players who have missed some time with injuries are on track to return to action tonight. One of those players is Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge, who has been sidelined since February 23 due to a right shoulder strain. Head coach Gregg Popovich said today that Aldridge will be back in action on Tuesday night against Dallas, tweets Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News.

Meanwhile, Dennis Smith Jr., who has missed the Knicks‘ last five games, has been cleared from the NBA’s concussion protocol and will be active on Tuesday night in Washington, head coach Mike Miller told reporters this evening (Twitter link via Ian Begley of SNY.tv).

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said today that Jaylen Brown (hamstring), who will miss his fourth straight game tonight, also seems unlikely to play on Thursday. Stevens added that Kemba Walker‘s left knee is feeling good, though the point guard will remain limited to about 30-32 minutes per game (Twitter link via Tim Bontemps of ESPN).
  • Both Joel Embiid (shoulder) and Josh Richardson (concussion) returned to practice today for the Sixers, per Bontemps (Twitter link). Embiid is listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game vs. Detroit, while Richardson should be good to go, tweets Jon Johnson of SportsRadio 94WIP.
  • As the Kings continue to push for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, there’s no indication that Marvin Bagley‘s return is imminent. The team issued a press release today announcing that Bagley continues to recover from a left midfoot sprain and is doing some on-court running and skill work. Sacramento provided no specific timeline for the big man, simply saying that updates will be provided “as appropriate.”

Joel Embiid Hoping To Return Next Wednesday

Joel Embiid is hoping that he’ll be able to return to the Sixers‘ lineup next Wednesday against Detroit, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic. Embiid has been sidelined since February 26 due to a left shoulder injury.

Embiid, who suffered the injury in a collision with Cavaliers center Ante Zizic, was diagnosed with a sprain after an MRI showed no significant structural damage. That diagnosis was viewed as good news, and there has been an expectation that the big man will be able to return to action before Philadelphia’s other injured star, Ben Simmons, does.

[RELATED: Latest On Ben Simmons’ Injury]

Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer tweets that Embiid has resumed on-court activities and will be officially re-evaluated by the team on Monday.

Assuming Embiid can make it back on Wednesday, he’ll only miss one more game — the 76ers are scheduled to play in Golden State on Saturday night before getting three consecutive days off. If Embiid doesn’t hit his target date, a March 14 contest against Indiana would be his next chance to return.

Philadelphia is jockeying for playoff position in the East, so getting Embiid back for the team’s last 18 games would be a big help in that race. Currently, the 38-25 Sixers are 2.5 games back of Miami for the No. 4 seed and a half-game ahead of the No. 6 Pacers.

Sixers Notes: Simmons, Embiid, Horford, GRIII

While Sixers center Joel Embiid has a chance to return from his shoulder injury within the next week, sources tell ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that Ben Simmons‘ recovery timeline is harder to pin down. Simmons, who is dealing with a nerve impingement in his lower back, will be re-evaluated next week.

As Shelburne explains, the Sixers are waiting for the inflammation around Simmons’ nerve to subside. The club is hoping to get him back before the end of the season so he can get his feet under him again before the playoffs. But at this point, that’s “just a hope,” given the uncertainty surrounding the injury, Shelburne writes.

Here’s more on the 76ers:

  • Shelburne’s ESPN article on the Sixers’ up-and-down season is worth reading in full, with head coach Brett Brown, GM Elton Brand, and big man Al Horford among those providing quotes. Brown, notably, expressed plenty of confidence that Embiid and Simmons are capable of not just co-existing and thriving, but of winning a title together. “I know these guys,” Brown said. “It’s like how my wife knows when my kids are going to get sick about two days before they get sick. When you’re a parent, you know your kids. And so I look at these two guys and I know they can win together. They can and they will.”
  • In the wake of a report suggesting the 76ers may explore trading Horford in the offseason, Chris Mannix of SI.com asked a veteran NBA executive about the possibility. “I would be shocked if he has value,” the exec said of Horford. “They might have to include an asset for someone to take him off their books. He has not looked good this year. His movement, it just seems a step slow, on both ends. I think they have to try to trade him. He obviously can’t play with Embiid. The goal should be to divide that salary over a couple of players and make them deeper. But I don’t know how they are going to do that.”
  • Glenn Robinson III, who expressed some confusion last week about what role the Sixers wanted him to play, is feeling a little better about his place in the rotation these days. As Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes, Robinson showed on Tuesday why the 76ers traded for him, scoring 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting. He said after the game that he’s continuing to “get a feel for my teammates.”

Sixers Get Good News On Embiid’s Shoulder

The Sixers defeated the Knicks on Thursday without center Joel Embiid, then got promising news on his injured left shoulder.

Tests shows no significant structural damage, as he’s been diagnosed with a sprain, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. Embiid’s progress will be symptom-based and he’ll be re-evaluated in approximately one week, Charania adds.

Embiid suffered the injury against Cleveland on Wednesday. He collided with Cleveland big man Ante Zizic late in the first quarter. Embiid remained in the game to shoot two free throws, then was taken out at the next stoppage.

The Sixers scheduled an MRI to determine the extent of the damage.

Philadelphia is down its two best players. Ben Simmons is out for at least the next two weeks because of a nerve impingement in his lower back.

Without Embiid, the Sixers relied more on Al Horford (15 points, nine assists, seven rebounds) and Tobias Harris (34 points, seven assists, seven rebounds) against New York. Kyle O’Quinn also got more playing time and grabbed 10 rebounds in 14 minutes.

Joel Embiid Suffers Shoulder Sprain

9:07pm: Embiid will undergo an MRI on Thursday, tweets Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

8:09pm: Sixers center Joel Embiid was pulled from tonight’s game in Cleveland after spraining his left shoulder, according to a story from the Associated Press. The team didn’t offer any specifics beyond the nature of the injury.

Embiid got hurt in a collision with Ante Zizic late in the first quarter. He remained in the game to shoot two free throws, but was taken out at the next stoppage. After walking to the locker room, Embiid briefly returned to the team bench in the second quarter, but left again for further evaluation.

A prolonged injury would come at a horrible time for the Sixers, who are already without Ben Simmons for at least the next two weeks because of a nerve impingement in his lower back. Philadelphia begins a four-game West Coast trip on Sunday.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Nets, Raptors, Celtics

Sixers center Joel Embiid has received a $25K fine for making an obscene gesture on the court and using profane language during a TV interview, the NBA announced today in a press release. Embiid gave Kevin Huerter the middle finger following an end-of-game steal by the Hawks’ swingman (video link), then dropped an f-bomb during a live postgame interview (video link). According to the league’s announcement, the amount of Embiid’s fine “reflects his multiple prior violations of acceptable on-court decorum.”

Here are a few more notes from around the Atlantic:

  • Kyrie Irving made some waves last month when he suggested the Nets had “glaring” needs and would need to add more pieces even after Kevin Durant‘s return. However, in a WFAN appearance this week, GM Sean Marks said he welcomes feedback from his star players. “I always take a select handful of player’s opinions in terms of how we can build this,” Marks said. “We’ve done this since day one. Because these guys know the players better than anyone else. …They’ll be brutally honest because they’ve got to go play with those guys. I think it’s important to weigh their opinions from time to time.”
  • In a Q&A with Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype, Raptors guard Terence Davis talked about his rookie season and his first impressions of living in Toronto, declaring that he’s “in love with the city.”
  • The Raptors were searching for more scoring at this month’s trade deadline, sources tell Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Besides its 2020 first-round pick, Toronto didn’t really have any expendable trade assets of value, so the club ultimately ended up standing pat.
  • Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston examines a few potential – and oft-mentioned – targets on the buyout market for the Celtics, explaining why most of them are unlikely fits.