It seemed inevitable that Joel Embiid would not be fully unleashed to begin the regular season, but that news was confirmed on Monday.
Sixers head coach Brett Brown was asked after practice what he had in mind for Embiid’s minutes ahead of opening night.
“I don’t really know if there’s a solid number,” Brown said. “I can tell you, if you were to choose a number, it’s somewhere in the teens. I think one of the things we’re doing this year, unlike previous years, is that there’s a little bit of a looseness in relation to (the idea that it) doesn’t need to be rigid if the game doesn’t dictate some tracking. What I told everybody is, when you study NBA rules -and I’m assuming everybody did their homework and knows that the rules have changed, timeouts aren’t as frequent, and timeouts are shorter – this is like I’m coaching in the London Olympic Games again. The game moves. I can have guys at the scorer’s table for two minutes with no stoppage. Sometimes the torrid pace of a game doesn’t favor Joel. You get flying up and down (the court). So the minute thing, we’re going to learn more about that. There will be some minute restrictions but it’s also a judgment of how is the game being played, not just looking at a rote, rigid number.”
Brown said he “would guess so” when asked if it might be difficult for Embiid to get to 30 minutes per game early in the season, but deferred that query to the medical staff.
Embiid seemed like he didn’t know about the restriction when he spoke about 20 minutes after Brown, unless he was joking around with the media.
“Ah shit, I didn’t know about that, but that’s very disappointing.” said Embiid. “I feel great and hopefully that changes based on today’s practice and tomorrow’s practice. I felt good in the Miami game. I played what, 14 minutes in the first half? I felt like I could have played 30 minutes. Felt good. So I think it’s coming. I’m still not there, but my body is getting in better shape and I feel great.”
Embiid did not practice Sunday but was a full participant Monday. He was held out yesterday for left knee rehabilitation and a left ankle sprain, the latter of which shouldn’t be an issue. The Sixers center said he stepped on an opponent’s foot in the Miami game.
Regarding medical clearance, Embiid spoke a few weeks back about the idea of having a say in the decision making process. While he’s more than happy to lean on the Sixers’ medical staff, he wants to make sure that the trust factor is a two-way street.
“I’ve got a voice. They’ve gotta listen to me,” he said. “It depends how I feel. If I feel great, if my body feels good, and my knee is fine, then I should play 30 minutes or more. I’m definitely gonna have my opinion on that and I’m sure they’re going to hear me and we’re going to discuss it, but at the same time I trust them. I trust the doctors, and even if I feel good, they’ll have a plan behind it. I guess you’ve just got to trust the process.”
“They call me the social media king”
Joel was asked about his weekend Twitter exchange with Hassan Whiteside, a brief carryover from their Friday night matchup in Kansas City. Embiid drew three early fouls on the Miami big man, then motioned for Eric Spoelstra to pull Whiteside from the game.
That prompted this:
Embiid laughed off the social media jabs Monday:
That exchange is good for a few laughs. I think they actually like each other. It’s just two guys talking smack.
Anyhow, in something completely unrelated, Embiid disagreed with the notion that Brett Brown might shave his beard.
“I gotta talk him into keeping that. That’s a bad idea.”
Markelle Fultz mechanics-gate
Rookie Markelle Fultz worked with a second unit on Monday that included T.J. McConnell, Dario Saric, Justin Anderson, and Amir Johnson. The first unit was Embiid, Ben Simmons, Robert Covington. Jerryd Bayless, and JJ Redick.
Brown admitted last week that Fultz would start the season coming off the bench, and doubled down on that idea today, because he doesn’t want to put the number one overall pick in a difficult situation.
“This league is driven by men,” he explained. “This league is driven by veterans. And when you put a rookie out there that hasn’t had the foundation and the preparation, you know, Markelle has missed a lot of the preseason, both in training camp and in games. So, to just put him in that environment is, I think, poor coaching. And I’m not doing it. So, when that time comes, and how we move him along, there’s no book that tells you how to do this. We’re going to figure it out, but the endgame needs to be developing Markelle Fultz.”
As far as Fultz’s shot, Brown reiterated that the Washington product isn’t leaning on his injured shoulder as an excuse for the mechanical experimentation, but admitted that there is a correlation.
“The shoulder none of us can dismiss,” Brown said. “You don’t go from one shot, one day, and to a progression of what we’re looking at. As the shoulder heals, and we get him back to some of the form we saw, it’ll come back. Right now it’s a work in progress. I think the other parts of his game are really quite good. He’s focused on moving his feet and he’s focused on moving without the ball. He still gets where we wants to go on an NBA court, but (the shot) is what everybody pays attention to because it is a bit different than it used to be.”
The only other note from training is that Jahlil Okafor was absent due to gastrointestinal illness. Richaun Holmes is still out with a left wrist fracture.