After a full year of rehabilitation, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid has been cleared to start light scrimmaging in five-on-five settings, league sources told The Vertical. It is the next step in the process to make his NBA debut in 2016-17.
The 7-foot Embiid has been impressive in his non-contact workouts in recent weeks at the 76ers’ facility, sources said, and the soundness of his problematic right foot should continue to allow him to begin preparations for next season.
"You can see what he's doing on the court," Colangelo said, cocking his head toward Embiid. "It looks like he's getting more fluidity every day. He's done some things competitively, two-on-two and three-on-three in controlled situations, but the word 'controlled' is the key there. Everything's got to be done within the process set forth and the timeline set forth by the doctors."
Ten months later, following a graft surgery that entails a six-month rehabilitation process for most folks, Colangelo announced that Embiid won't be playing with the Sixers' summer league team next month. Of course, most folks aren't 300 pounds and land on a hardwood floor with the impact of a bowling ball dropped from the ceiling. Nevertheless, he isn't cleared to play and nobody really knows if he'll be ready for the winter league, either. "I can't answer that question," Colangelo said. "It's only going to be when the doctors tell me he's ready. Then I'll tell you the answer to that."
Derek Bodner: Bryan Colangelo: "Let me put it to rest. Joel Embiid will not play summer league basketball."
"People are just looking for a timeline," Colangelo said. "There's no timeline. But until I hear a doctor tell me 'No summer league,' I will always say anything's open. But the likelihood of him playing summer league is nil. I would only say that because of where he is in the progression right now. But if he makes enough progress and the doctors say he's ready to go there's no reason he shouldn't. But having said that, I would say it's a 99-percent chance, maybe a 100-percent chance, that he's not going to play. We just don't want to put him in a situation where he hasn't been playing competitive basketball. We probably want to ease into that and that would mean sometime after summer league. But if he is going to come into training camp you want him to have at least a little bit of flow and a little bit of rhythm and to be in a position where he could have tested the foot to the extent that he's ultimately going to be exposed in a training-camp environment."
On April 27, Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said he wouldn't rule it out, though the organization wasn't going to rush the 7-foot-2, 275-pound Embiid back before he's ready. He has repeated a similar stance in recent weeks. But an NBA source Thursday called it "unlikely" that Embiid would participate in the Utah Jazz Summer League from July 4-7 or the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas from July 8-18.
The source said Embiid playing less than 11 months after bone graft surgery on his right foot wasn't "practical." The last thing the Sixers want is Embiid experiencing a setback that could jeopardize or delay his regular-season debut. Embiid has missed his first two pro seasons due to a pair of foot surgeries. Embiid, who was expected to begin playing 2-on-2 this week, remains optimistic that he'll be ready for the start of the 2016-17 season.
Brett Brown mentioned that just a few days ago, he conducted an on-court session involving Joel Embiid. “He’s moving well,” said Brown. “I think his spirit’s fantastic. Everything is looking great right now. I’m thrilled for him, he deserves it, he put in the time, and I thought he looked good in the workout the other day.”
Bryan Colangelo provided additional comments on Embiid’s status, saying, “[Embiid] has been on the court, working out slowly and methodically getting back to the point where he’s going to be ready for some five-on-five type competition. At what point, I’m not sure yet, but he looks terrific in his drill work. He’s coming along. That’s not to get over-hyped about it. It’s just to say he’s progressing well, and that’s encouraging for all of us.”
Colangelo hasn't ruled out Embiid playing summer league ball in July, which would be 11 months after his second straight season-ending right foot surgery. "It's an evolving process," Colangelo said. "We hope to get to the point where we get him healthy, ready and prepared to play basketball. At some point, people will be very happy to see him in a uniform. I do not want to try to speed that up. I can tell you he's been handled the right way, based on what I can tell. It seems like he's moving in the right direction every day. The good news is he's in Philadelphia and we can have daily contact. He's got a very regimented, planned-out schedule."
Colangelo expects Embiid to spend the bulk of the offseason here, though Embiid could head out to his U.S. home base of Los Angeles once or twice.
Asked how the uncertainty of Embiid's situation factors into the Sixers' draft plans in which they could pick as high as Nos. 1 and 4, Colangelo replied, "It's a great question." "There is some difficulty there," Colangelo said. "We're not sure what to expect. Also there's the topic of compatibility of parts. The question is how have Nerlens (Noel) and Jahlil (Okafor) meshed so far? We've thought about how it might look with Joel (in the mix)."
Sirius XM NBA: "We don't want to rush [Embiid] back but I am encouraged by what I've seen. He seems anxious to get going." -- Bryan Colangelo
Brian Geltzeiler: Re: Embiid "Nothing will be done to fast forward the process if he's not ready. Prepared to move on w/ or without him" BC on @Sirius XM NBA
Tom Moore: #NBA source: Joel Embiid's lone restriction right now is "full-contact, full-court scrimmaging." Story to follow. #Sixers
Tom Moore: Embiid seems to be moving a little quicker than before he went to Qatar. Hunched over a lot (appears a bit winded). #Sixers
It looks like Sixers center Joel Embiid has time for a little bit of fun in between his rehab sessions. Embiid returned to world renowned private hospital Aspetar in Qatar over a week ago to continue his training for the 2016-17 NBA season, and apparently ran into PSG midfielder Javier Pastore. Paris St. Germain has an agreement with Aspetar to be the official medical partner of the club until the end of next season. Seeing as how soccer was Embiid's first love, it was only right that the two kicked it around a little bit.
If Embiid is spending two weeks in Qatar, as reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, that'd give him only 1 1/2 weeks to spend with the Sixers prior to the April 13 season finale in Chicago. "He hasn't had any development," said an NBA source. "He has not been around the team or a winning culture." The source believes the trips to Qatar could indicate "there's something wrong" with Embiid, though a second source denied that is the case. "You don't send somebody to Qatar just to get a checkup," said an NBA source prior to the news coming out that Embiid had gone back.
Brown insisted Embiid is "absolutely" moving forward in the healing process. "No doubt," the coach said. "If his mind and his determination is a reflection of that opinion, then I feel even more confident in saying that."
But based on discussions with three longtime NBA executives and online research, it appears the Sixers are hoping Embiid can become the first player in league history to be a difference-maker after missing his first two seasons due to injury. "I'm sure there aren't many," said a league source. "I don't think I've heard of that happening."
As for those wondering if Embiid's foot is progressing as quickly as it should, the first source said, "Don't believe (it's not). He's doing fine — well, in fact. He's reached another gear."
Two sources expressed surprise that the Sixers don't plan to let Embiid first experience NBA ball in a more controlled atmosphere during July's summer leagues like they did with Nerlens Noel in July 2014 after Noel was sidelined for his first year with a torn ACL. "All of this pressure is going to be on him to perform," said the third source. "He's the face of the franchise. Why wouldn't you get him out in Vegas against rookies and first- and second-year players who don't play a lot, or fringe guys?"
Embiid supposedly advanced to play some 4-on-4 last spring, only to re-injure the foot and require a second season-ending bone graft surgery in August 2015 in which the two screws were replaced. "In the prime of his learning curve, he's not learning," said a third league source.
Joel Embiid is back in Qatar. This time, the 76ers center has some team personnel with him. Embiid left Philadelphia this week and will spend the next several weeks at Aspetar, an orthopedic and sports medicine hospital located in Doha, Qatar. He had a lot of success there, and the team wanted to send him back for more treatment, according to a source.
Jessica Camerato: Embiid's current visit to Qatar will include rehab again and a little more training than the previous visit, according to a source.
A lot of hype surrounding the 76ers' 2016-17 season involves Joel Embiid. That's when the 7-foot-2 center is scheduled to make his debut after being sidelined this season and last season following surgeries to his right foot. But . . . "I think everybody also must understand that . . . it's not like [Embiid] is going to come out and play 40 minutes and play 82 games," Sixers coach Brett Brown said. "That would be naive and not true.
"I think everybody also must understand that . . . it's not like [Embiid] is going to come out and play 40 minutes and play 82 games," Sixers coach Brett Brown said. "That would be naïve and not true. "We have to be responsible with some minute restrictions with him. You would assume that he's not going to play back-to-back games. All those things will be determined."
But the biggest thing that Aspetar might offer is a place of familiarity for Embiid. For a French-speaking Cameroonian athlete who grew up playing soccer, a medical staff that widely speaks French is a little slice of home. Not only that, it's a whole lot nicer to be in Doha, Qatar, where the highs are in the upper 70s than in the harsh, dark winters of Philadelphia. "He bought in in a big way," Brown says of Embiid. "He is doing great. I feel like I see an older player, a more committed, excited player. The recognition that he hasn't played basketball in a while, he can't miss a bit, he can't miss a step. The circle of people we've put around him is massive."
Embiid put up shots before Wednesday’s game against the Hornets and was working with coaches and Carl Landry long after Sixers practice wrapped Thursday. Each workout session is planned out without going overboard to rush the schedule. He has not appeared in an NBA game since being drafted third overall by the Sixers in 2014. “It’s very monitored,” Brown said. “It’s very structured. It’s deliberate practice. It needs to be. Any excitement that we see coming back, it can’t be misinterpreted and abused where you do something longer or harder or more of than you should have. There’s a diet. There is a prescribed duration of drills and time and so on that we have to stick to and it is increasing.”
After practice, they spoke of his positive presence. “I knew JoJo prior to even before coming here,” said Jahlil Okafor, who got to know Embiid while he was at the University of Kansas. “He’s like a brother to me. I love JoJo. When he’s around, he just picks everybody up. We know he’s doing what he has to do for recovery. It’s great to have him here.”
The update did, unfortunately, contain one sobering admission from Hinkie: he doesn't expect Embiid to play in summer league. “If I had to guess, I doubt it,” Hinkie said, when asked whether fans should expect to see Embiid play in July. “The goal from here is to back up and say, ‘Let’s have Joel raring to go for next season,’ but not [necessarily] for Salt Lake on the fifth of July.”
“The first time through, he got injured and had surgery in June  and was getting ready for Summer League in July . This last time, he had surgery in August ,” Hinkie continued. “We definitely wouldn’t push him to be ready in July , and I’m not sure it would make a whole lot of sense at, the end of the day.”
Tom Moore: #Sixers Hinkie: 'If I had to guess, I doubt' Embiid would play in summer league. We definitely wouldn't push him.' #NBA
Joel Embiid wasn't with the 76ers when they returned from the six-day all-star break Wednesday evening. Embiid was in Doha, which is the capital of Qatar, consulting and rehabilitating his twice surgically repaired right foot at Aspetar, which bills itself as "the world's leading specialized orthopedic and sports medicine hospital."
Embiid traveled to Qatar, which is in the Persian Gulf, over the weekend and is expected to remain there for a few more days, according to a second NBA source that confirmed the first source's report.
The source called this a "previously scheduled" trip at a facility the organization had investigated for roughly six months and referred to it as "a kick-start to the next phase" of Embiid's rehab. The source, emphasizing Embiid hasn't had a setback, said Embiid's stay involves "evaluation, consultation, training and meeting with lots of specialists."
Injured center Joel Embiid playing this season has "never been a consideration," according to Jerry Colangelo.
Mike Gill: Brett Brown: "I'm very, very confident that we will see a healthy Joel Embiid soon." #SixersTalk
Mike Gill: Re: Brett Brown's comment to we'll see Embiid soon, he did say NOT this season - #SixersTalk
Joel Embiid is in the midst of his West Coast rehabilitation plan. The 76ers' sidelined center arrived in Los Angeles on Thursday. Sixers coach Brett Brown said he would stay for a few days, doing on- and off-the-court work. Asked if Embiid's trip to California included a doctor's visit, Brown responded, "Not so much that." "It's all part of that rehab and that plan and path that he is on with David Martin, one of the world's recognized sports scientists," Brown said. Martin is the team's director of health and performance research. "He's created a plan and path. The number of people around Joel Embiid is massive.
Keith Pompey: Joel Embiid is at practice, here talking to #Sixers coach Brett Brown. https://t.co/edKQhJbeZS
League sources say Sixers management was comfortable with the medical information it had on Embiid heading into the 2014 draft. The team attributes Embiid's continued absence (he's likely to miss the entire season again) to subsequent setbacks. Nonetheless, in the third year of Hinkie's rebuilding plan, most of the harvest has yet to come in. Nerlens Noel, the sixth pick in 2013 acquired from New Orleans in the Jrue Holiday trade, missed his entire rookie season but has begun to assert himself as a defensive presence (though not much of an offensive one).
The 76ers consulted physicians from around the country and the world, including specialists from Australia, the Netherlands and Qatar, before Embiid's second surgery. There are no guarantees that this operation will work -- everyone thought the first one would do the trick -- but Embiid at least is staying on top of his conditioning, after numerous stories came out during the summer about his being out of shape. "He just seems like (there's) a new level of maturity, a new level of seriousness in him," a source said. "The gravity of the situation is on him; it's on everyone."
Brown said injured center Joel Embiid is "doing great." "Most importantly, he's doing fantastically in his mind," Brown said. "He is so determined to do everything that he has to, everything that people are telling him that he has to do, to get it right. There is a real progression, I think, in his maturity and his seriousness to understanding truly what needs to be done for him to give himself every chance to get back on the court."
Brian Seltzer: Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who had two navicular bone injuries, a guest of Sixers tonight. https://t.co/NBeOe8qYkz
Christopher A. Vito: Brett Brown said this marks the second time Ilgaukas has met with Embiid. (Both are int'l centers who have endured navicular surgeries.)
Injured center Joel Embiid warmly greeted his teammates in the locker room before the game, lamenting how he keeps getting "sniped" in the video game Call of Duty. Embiid, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, is missing his second straight season with right foot surgery. He was wearing a protective boot on the foot Monday.
Derek Bodner: Former #sixers guard Michael Carter-Williams @Michael Carter-Williams): "I wouldn't say [Joel Embiid] didn't take his rehab seriously": soundcloud.com/siriusxmnba/mi…
According to the article, published Friday morning, Embiid physically threatened the team's strength coach last season, causing Embiid to be sent home from a West Coast road trip. The report said Embiid, 21, repeatedly refused to answer questions by the training staff about his workouts as he rehabs from two surgeries on his right foot. "It's just one of those things that we move on from," Brown said before a 127-118 preseason loss to Washington at the Wells Fargo Center on Friday night. "We're pretty much treating it as noise. We will move on from it."
The report said that owner Josh Harris instructed Brown and general manager Sam Hinkie to keep Embiid from attending the Las Vegas Summer League. Brown said that was not true. Embiid, the article said, was "determined to go to Vegas to party."
The fact that Brown sent Embiid home from a West Coast road trip last season for being insubordinate to the team’s strength coach and training staff is well documented, but according to a source, the tipping point in the decision was Embiid physically threatening the strength coach on that road trip. According to sources, this followed a pattern of insubordination from Embiid during the rehabilitation of his initial foot injury that sidelined him for the entire 2014–15 season, where he would repeatedly refuse to answer questions from the training staff about his workouts and therapy sessions.
Max Rapaport: Hinkie says original fracture site was improving month by month before CT scan showed less healing early in summer; no symptoms of re-break. In other words, Hinkie says Joel Embiid didn’t re-break his navicular bone. Less healing than expected was cause for second procedure.
Steve Kyler: Interesting comment from 76ers source on Joel Embiid rehab 76ers "not worried about next ten months, more concerned about next ten years". 76ers stance on rehab is that a conservative and complete rehab schedule will be followed, no corners will be cut, no artificial timelines
There was no immediate word from the Sixers and general manager Sam Hinkie didn't respond to a text message. It's unclear where the surgery was performed. The Sixers sent out a release July 11 saying Embiid would have a bone graft “in the next seven to 10 days.” Embiid is expected to sit out the 2015-16 season.
Sixers center Joel Embiid had successful foot surgery on Tuesday, according to a league source. The source described the surgery as "all good."
Joel Embiid: EVERYTHING WENT REALLY WELL..... Excited for the future #BELIEVE #JE21 #Sixers http://instagram.com/p/6ii7VkFrvL/
The $9 million the Philadelphia 76ers ownership will pay Joel Embiid in his first two years, even though he has not played an NBA game, will come out of their pockets. Although Embiid's contract is insured, since it is among the five highest salaries on the team, sources say Embiid's right foot was excluded from the policy because it was a pre-existing injury.
Marc J. Spears: Joel Embiid, who will have Kevin Durant type foot surgery Tuesday, made classy move by attending Sixers asst. @LloydPierceLP wedding Friday.
Joel Embiid has not yet undergone a second surgery on his right foot, sources close to the situation told CSNPhilly.com, however, that procedure is still scheduled to take place and Embiid is still expected to miss the upcoming 2015-16 season. In early July, the Philadelphia Inquirer first reported that Embiid will require another surgery to address the navicular bone injury in his right foot. The team confirmed that report in a statement and said it anticipated “the procedure will take place in the next 7-10 days.” That was nearly a month ago, and Embiid has yet to have the surgery.
The holdup has led to speculation in the media. When asked about the delay, one source said it was partly because Embiid -- who is 21 and who, according to president/general manager Sam Hinkie, has been pain-free -- was coming to terms with the decision. The source indicated that Embiid and his confidants wanted more time to review the matter and select a doctor. A doctor has been chosen, though the source declined to provide that information.
The source said Embiid also reached out to Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant. The Thunder star underwent a bone graft on his right foot in late March. That surgery was performed at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, home to one of at least 12 doctors the Sixers and Embiid have so far consulted about Embiid’s hyper-complicated situation.
October 5, 2022 | 12:55 pm EDT Update
“It would mean everything in the world to me to be back in the NBA,” DeMarcus Cousins told Yahoo Sports. “I know I belong in this league. I feel like I’ve paid my dues and earned my stripes. I’ve hit some bumps in the road with injuries and I’ve always worked my way back to be 100 percent healthy. I’ve worked my tail off to get back to this point. I just want the opportunity to show the work I’ve put in and continue to put in. I also just want an opportunity to also earn my keep and that’s all I really want. I have a lot left in the tank. A whole lot. I feel like I’ve actually become an even better player, just sharpening all my skills. I’ve had nothing but time in the gym. I’ve gotten better in all aspects of my game.
But NBA executives continue to have questions about his character and what he brings to a locker room. In a phone interview with Yahoo Sports from his home in Las Vegas, the 6-foot-10 center sought to provide answers to those questions. “Have I made mistakes? Absolutely,” Cousins told Yahoo Sports. “Have I done things the wrong way? Absolutely. For that, I’m very apologetic. But I’ve done even more things the correct way and I’ve done even more positive things compared to my negatives. I just don’t want those positives to be overlooked. And obviously, whenever it gets to the point where the negatives outweigh the positives, you should probably move away from him. That’s just how life goes. But I don’t believe I’m in that boat. I’m just asking for a chance to show my growth as a man and a player.”
Cousins said he’s working out every day from basketball drill sessions, conditioning, weight lifting and body maintenance. He’s doing it all without a guarantee of ever touching an NBA court again. But that’s his motivation. “I’m just trying to control what I can control,” Cousins told Yahoo Sports. “This process can get repetitive and get to the point where it can kind of drive you crazy, but you just have to fall in love with the process. Every day I’m working out to make sure I’m better than I was the previous day. So whenever the opportunity does come about and my name is called upon, I’ll be prepared.”
Christos Tsaltas: Wizards guard/forward Corey Kispert will miss approximately 4-6 weeks due to a sprained left ankle. Kispert suffered the injury after stepping on an opponent’s foot during the first quarter of Sunday’s preseason game in Japan vs. the Golden State Warriors. #DCAboveAll
October 5, 2022 | 12:40 pm EDT Update
The Cleveland Cavaliers’ ongoing battle for the starting small forward spot will be one player short in Philadelphia on Wednesday night. Sources tell cleveland.com Dylan Windler did not make the trip for the preseason opener against the 76ers because of an injured right ankle suffered near the end of practice Tuesday. Windler stayed back in Cleveland for treatment. A source says the right ankle injury is considered “minor.”
Shaquille O’Neal brought up the topic of James and him closing in on Abdul-Jabbar’s record on the show “IMPAULSIVE” (at the 26:42 mark) and said that James passing Abdul-Jabbar’s record actually has him jealous. “LeBron’s about to do something that hasn’t been done in a long time and I think he will put his move up there,” Shaquille O’Neal said. “To pass up Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, I can truthfully say I’m jealous of that feat.” Although he said that Michael Jordan is the greatest player ever in his eyes, he had plenty of praise for LeBron James and the record he is about to break.