Looks like Joel Embiid’s left knee is more of a problem than originally thought.
General Manager Elton Brand spoke to reporters for a good 20 minutes prior to tonight’s season finale against the Chicago Bulls, and he revealed that there’s a chance Embiid might not be ready to play on Saturday or Sunday, whenever the Sixers kick off the postseason.
It started with an innocuous question about Embiid’s readiness for this weekend.
I’m optimistic. I’ve seen him, he’s doing everything in his power to be ready for this weekend. I was in Miami with him and we had a short meeting. He was on his way to Hydro Works, which is an underwater treadmill. He is working his butt off to be ready. He’s focused on his body and focused on his diet, so I’m optimistic.
Later, he was asked whether Embiid’s health is a question, or whether he’s as ready as the Sixers could hope for him to be, leading to this exchange, after the jump:
Brand: I’m optimistic that he’ll be ready this weekend and that he’s doing everything he can to get back. But of course, he’s the major key. We see the difference between when Joel is out there and when he’s not.
Mike Sielski, Inquirer: So there’s a possibility he won’t be ready?
Brand: Again, I’m optimistic he’ll be ready this weekend.
Sielski: So it’s possible he won’t play.
Brand: It’s possible.
(unrelated question in between)
Sielski: Did you guys bring in Greg Monroe as – how much does that have to do with Joel’s knee and where he’s at?
Brand: When Justin (Patton) wasn’t going to play, I just felt like we could add a body in the locker room, a playoff tested player that could go out there and play if we needed minutes. So it wasn’t all on Joel. I just felt like, when you have a chance to add a Greg Monroe after his 10-day contract is up with Boston, that we should do that.
John Clark: NBC 10: Just to clear up what you said, that it’s possible that Joel may not play this weekend, is the time he’s missed more load management and rest or more something with his knee?
Brand: Like I said, I’m optimistic that he plays this weekend. But it’s a combination of how he feels. I think he’ll present well and he’ll be ready, but you don’t know.
Doesn’t sound too reassuring does it? Unless Brand is just playing coy here and Joel comes out and drops 40 on an unsuspecting opponent.
Later, Keith Pompey at the Inquirer noted that Embiid has gained a few pounds and asked if that played a role in the knee issue.
Yeah, I don’t think it’s a weight issue. Like I said, he’s focused on his diet. He’s focused on his cardio and his conditioning. I’m optimistic that he’s back, and if he’s back, he’ll be fine.
So the strangest part of this is that Brett Brown said something different about one hour before Brand spoke to the media.
Here’s the head coach, when asked if he feels like his starting five is healthy enough to play in the playoffs:
I do. I do, but it’s taken a lot of planning. It’s taken a lot of people behind the scenes to deliver people to this day, to this period of the week and starting of the playoffs. Everybody’s road map is different, you know? Joel is different than Jimmy is different than JJ is different than Ben, and so on and so on. What I’ve tried to do is sort of get out in front of stuff and anticipate this period of time coming up and (determine) how you roll out your guys, ready to throw punches as healthy as we can be. So you ask the question, ‘will everybody be healthy to start the playoffs?’ it is my belief that they will be.
It’s not necessarily contradictory, but the head coach believes his starting five will be good while the GM admits there’s a possibility the team’s best player won’t be available.
We’re gonna have to wait and see.