Sixers Notes: Joel Embiid Plays Tennis and Dario Saric Hates Resting

Recent videos of Joel Embiid are real and they’re spectacular.

Embiid was spotted jogging through Philadelphia Monday night, then playing tennis in Rittenhouse Square with an unidentified opponent.

Turns out that was an assistant coach, and the Sixers center had been out and about on Sunday night, too.

Brett Brown:

“It’s actually two nights in a row now. People just weren’t ready with their cameras the night before. He’s just trying to find ways to do active things outside and get fresh air. He played tennis with one of our assistant coaches. The assistant coach left, he ran home. He declares himself to be a man of the people and I think he’s proud of that and I think he lives it. There’s no marketing exercise or sort of some clandestine conspiracy theory. It was very innocent. He played tennis and ran home.”

That’s great, I guess, but the optics certainly look funky considering this city’s history of Sixers big men playing niche sports while recovering from injuries.

As a quick aside, could you imagine Embiid as a pro tennis player? I could see him playing serve and volley ala Patrick Rafter with a wingspan that covers the entirety of the net.

Anyway, Brown has no issue with Embiid’s highly visible activities:

“I love it. This morning we had Brian Dawkins speak to our team. You start talking about educating our players as to what this city really is – and there’s nothing like athletes talking to athletes – and trying to get a sense of the beat on the street as to what goes on in fan’s eyes, and what the city really is, apart from the history of our organization. Understanding the responsibility and privilege we have of playing in front of this crowd, it’s amazing. The Palestra crowd showed a little bit of what I’m talking about. And so Joel connecting with the fans, however he chooses to do it, we encourage it. It’s pure. He likes it and I think the fans should appreciate it also.”

Burying the lede

I guess it’s worth mentioning that Embiid won’t play on Wednesday or Friday.

He’s still not cleared for full court 5v5 activity, though he did take part in Tuesday drills that involved “full court” passing and shooting with two seconds left on the clock. The designs were obviously mostly static and not true scrimmages or anything resembling that:

Brown said that practices have been tailored to get Embiid involved as much as possible, based on his clearance:

“Just slowly, slowly being ramped up. We really do the same thing every morning, you come in, you learn from the medical people what we’re able to get out of Joel Embiid, and we sort of design the practice based on what the advice is of the medical people. Lately we’ve been in half court a lot, probably more than I would like to be. But we’re making progress trying to execute better. There are positives from the environment but we’re really just trying to cater the structure to slowly groom Joel back into the mix and let everybody get used to playing with him, and him playing with us.”

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot won’t play this week as he recovers from right knee patellar tendonitis. Amir Johnson sprained an ankle in practice and is listened as questionable for Wednesday.

Dario Saric isn’t hurt, but he’ll be rested for the Grizzlies game.

Saric and Furkan Korkmaz participated in European competition this summer, which means they’re further along but also a little worn out compared to their American teammates. The Sixers have a comprehensive sports science program that tracks pretty much everything their players do, so I wonder if some of their data told them to give Saric a rest.

“He hates it,” Brown said. “He can’t stand it. It’s a thing that we should all love the most in Dario. He loves basketball. He doesn’t want to let people down. He wants to fight through things. He’s everything this city would want in their athletes. It’s a fist fight to try to get him to buy in and I’m gonna try to do it more with him. The NBA, 82 games is unforgiving. It’s on your doorstep and now is the time when we actually have some possibilities to make some money where we can just put him down for awhile.”

For what it’s worth, Saric is older than Korkmaz and plays a bigger role for both club and country. The Sixers need a rested Saric, while Korkmaz is probably headed to the D-League anyway.

A first time for everything

Ben Simmons might have been the most popular player at Sunday’s scrimmage, judging by fan reaction.

He’ll play his first game at the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday, almost a year after breaking his foot on the final day of 2016 training camp.

The biggest storyline surrounding Simmons is probably how he shares the ball with Markelle Fultz, and what the Sixers offense looks like in half court sets versus transition opportunities.

Another topic is actually playing against a different team, and seeing how the Grizzlies defend a hybrid 6’11” athlete.

“I’ve been speaking to coach about it and I have no idea,” Simmons said. “I have no idea who they’re going to put on me, how they’re gonna guard it, but we’ll see. I think I’m gonna learn a lot from the first few games.”

The opportunity for mismatches will likely be there.

“It just depends,” Simmons added. “Depends what height they are, how big they are. If it’s a smaller guy I can usually take them down into the post. If it’s a bigger guy I can go by them. We’ll see when I get into the game how the flow goes.”

One thing we do know is that Marc Gasol won’t be guarding Simmons. He’ll sit out the preseason opener along with Tyreke Evans, who is dealing with migraines.

Together we build a better burger

The Sixers also announced that the Garces Group is now the”Preferred Catering Partner for the team’s VIP and premium events, as well as corporate meetings.”

If you’re unfamiliar, Jose Garces is the Ecuadorian-American chef who has been serving up amazing food in Philly since 2001.

From the release:

“Garces is celebrating this partnership by offering a 76ers inspired Burger of the Month for October at Garces’ Village Whiskey called the “Ballin’ Ben Bacon Burger.” Then in November, Buena Onda will offer a 76ers inspired Taco of the Month.”
Here’s the “BBBB” in all its glory:

It’s an eight ounce beef patty composed of “Pineland Farms chuck roll, top sirloin and wagyu beef fat.” The toppings are two slices of Reiker’s Meats Double Smoked Bacon, Gruyere Cheese, Roasted Kennett Square Mushrooms, and Sweet Onion Remoulade, served on a fresh Pain au Lait Bun.

That sounds good. I think I’ll have that.



One Response

  1. Tennis is good for conditioning, and you make a lot of quick cuts while playing, so this is great for his recovery.
    I find it funny ppl are filming this and sites are covering it like they have footage of bigfoot or a unicorn. Ppl love whipping out the camera

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