76ers

Joel Embiid (knee) eyeing a return to full strength by training camp

Joel Embiid (knee) eyeing a return to full strength by training camp

Training camp is less than two months away and Joel Embiid is anticipating he will be ready to go. He still has some steps to take before he's back in game mode.

The Sixers' big man gave an update on his health on Wednesday from Africa, where he is attending, but not playing in the NBA Africa Game 2017.

Embiid said he has not been cleared to play 5-on-5, but he is doing non-contact drills and plans to be ready for training camp, according to Marc Spears of The Undefeated. Embiid underwent season-ending surgery in late March to repair a meniscus tear in his left knee. A team source confirmed he is on schedule with his rehab. 

The 7-footer has been eager to get back on the court since the day he was sidelined. At the Draft Lottery in May, he said he was planning to play all 82 games this coming season. That night he also said he was eyeing playing 5-on-5 during this summer (see story). The Sixers do not have official organized basketball activity until training camp, likely to begin in late September. 

The team will continue to monitor Embiid closely. It remains to be seen if he will be under a minutes restriction or if he will be cleared to play in back-to-back games. While he would like to play a complete season, a jump from 31 to 82 is drastic and unlikely. 

Robert Covington (lower back contusion) out vs. Pelicans

Robert Covington (lower back contusion) out vs. Pelicans

NEW ORLEANS — Robert Covington will miss the Sixers' game Sunday night against the Pelicans in New Orleans because of a lower back contusion he suffered during a fall Saturday late against the Cavaliers.

X-rays and a CT scan came back negative. Covington is with the team in New Orleans and is doubtful for Tuesday's game in Minnesota.

Covington tumbled out of bounds and over courtside seats while he tried to save a possession during a Sixers comeback attempt. There is an approximate four-to-five inch drop between the court and the area where Covington landed. Many of his teammates were unaware of Covington's injury at first because it was out of their vision.

“It’s scary to see your teammate like that,” guard JJ Redick said. “They said he fell on his back. I wanted to make sure he’s walking and not in too much pain. But I just wish the best for him and hope he’s OK.”

The Sixers will have to replace Covington in the starting lineup. They will have Joel Embiid back after the big man sat out Saturday because of his back-to-back restriction.

Trevor Booker wastes no time impressing Sixers in debut

Trevor Booker wastes no time impressing Sixers in debut

BOX SCORE

CLEVELAND — Trevor Booker made his transition to the Sixers look easy in his first 20 minutes with his new team.

The veteran forward was a highlight of the Sixers’ 105-98 loss to the Cavaliers (see observations). He came in off the bench and gave the Sixers just what they expected when they acquired him Thursday from the Nets in exchange for Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas. 

“What we just saw is an accurate snapshot of what he is,” Brown said. “He’s high energy. He’s got a big motor. There’s a level of maturity and toughness that we need.”

The Sixers were shorthanded in the frontcourt without Joel Embiid, who was not with the team because of his back-to-back restriction. (Embiid will play Sunday in New Orleans.) Amir Johnson and Richaun Holmes were picking up the playing time, but both got in early foul trouble.

Booker was ready to go. He scored 12 points (4 for 6 from the field) and pulled down eight rebounds. Booker found himself at the right place at the right time, being a target for his teammates at the hoop.

“I think just going out there and playing with energy," Booker said, "finding easy baskets like that around the rim, those are things I have to do to get myself going and to help this team out.”

Booker is already forming chemistry with Ben Simmons, which could develop into a backcourt-frontcourt punch. Brown is excited for the younger players to share the court with the eighth-year veteran. 

“He’s a beast,” Simmons said. “I love playing with him so far. He’s a hard-working guy, he runs the floor, knows how to play the game, spaces the floor. He’s a good player.”

Booker echoed of Simmons, “He’s a tremendous passer, tremendous overall player. I can tell I’m going to have a lot of fun playing with him.”

Booker barely has had a second to catch his breath since the trade. He was in Mexico City with the Nets when he received the news. Booker estimates he got an hour of sleep Thursday night. He had to take an early morning connecting flight that eventually got him back to Brooklyn and then to Philadelphia for a physical. In a whirlwind of travel, he flew with the team Friday to Cleveland.

Still, he managed to look well rested and equally well prepared in his Sixers debut.

“Trevor can play on any team in the league,” JJ Redick said. “He’s easy to play with. He plays hard, he screens, he knows who he is, he stars in his role on a consistent basis. We’re lucky to have him.”