76ers

As Sixers camp nears, Joel Embiid still not ready for 5-on-5

As Sixers camp nears, Joel Embiid still not ready for 5-on-5

The foremost question on everybody’s minds when Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo and coach Brett Brown met with reporters over lunch Wednesday afternoon was simple: When is Joel Embiid going to be able to play 5-on-5?

“Right now,” Brown said, “we can’t give you a direct answer.”

The 23-year-old Embiid, who as a rookie in 2016-17 displayed uncommon skills and equally uncommon charisma, underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee in March, ending his season after 31 games.

The 7-2, 280-pound center is the obvious key to a young, promising team, but he is not yet ready to go full-tilt. 

“If you walk in the gym, it looks like he could play 5-on-5 basketball,” Colangelo said. “But we’re going to take our cues from the people who know best.”

And right now the Sixers’ medical staff, headed by the newly hired vice president of athlete care, Dr. Daniel Medina, favors what Colangelo called “a hyper-conservative progression.”

“Will he be ramping that up throughout the preseason?” Colangelo said “Yes. How many games, we’re not certain. Is it every game? We don’t know. That will be based on what we’re told.”

The Sixers open training camp next Tuesday in their Camden, New Jersey-based facility. The preseason begins Oct. 4 against Memphis at the Wells Fargo Center, while the regular season opens Oct. 18 in Washington.

“It’s not about being ready for the first practice or the first game,” Colangelo said. “And he will be out there for the first practice and the first game. The question is how much, how little, if at all. Those things will be determined by certain criteria along the way.”

Colangelo said, in fact, that he has a document that spells out the criteria that must be met before Embiid can play.

“There is a plan in place,” Colangelo said, “and it’s a progression-based plan. It’s criteria-based, and as he’s checking off boxes, and continues to jump over each and every successive item, then we’ll put him out there on the floor. There’s no timetable. There’s no scheduled number of minutes. There is no decision on back-to-backs. All of that is yet to be determined.”

Embiid, the third overall pick in the 2014 draft, missed his first two seasons while recovering from a broken foot. He averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks last season, despite a minutes restriction; he averaged just 25.4 a game.

When Brown was asked whether Embiid will be on such a restriction this season, he said, “We all hope not, obviously.”

The other question about Embiid concerns whether he and the team can reach an accord on a contract extension. Colangelo said he is “cautiously optimistic” that that can happen before Oct. 16, the NBA’s deadline for extending players on their rookie deals.

But the primary question remains about Embiid’s health.

“This really is about creating an opportunity for him to have long-term, sustainable health,” Colangelo said, “not to get ready for the first preseason game per se, or the second preseason game. Again, that progression is going to lead to hopefully a full season of competitive basketball, without restriction. That’s the goal.”

Markelle Fultz out for Sixers-Celtics preseason game

Markelle Fultz out for Sixers-Celtics preseason game

There will be no Markelle Fultz-Jayson Tatum showdown on Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Fultz, the No. 1 overall draft pick this summer, is out for the Sixers-Celtics preseason game because of right shoulder soreness.

Sixers head coach Brett Brown said the decision to sit Fultz is for precautionary reasons.

The Sixers will start Ben Simmons, Jerryd Bayless, JJ Redick, Robert Covington and Amir Johnson.

Here are the other Sixers out tonight.

For the Celtics' starting five, it will be Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Tatum, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford.

Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Philadelphia and streaming live here.

NBA Notes: Norman Powell inks 4-year extension with Raptors

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NBA Notes: Norman Powell inks 4-year extension with Raptors

TORONTO -- The Toronto Raptors signed guard Norman Powell to a four-year extension Thursday.

The deal begins next season and is reportedly worth $42 million.

The 24-year-old Powell averaged 8.4 points and 2.2 rebounds in 76 games last season. The former UCLA player was drafted 46th overall in 2015, and averaged 5.6 points in 49 games as a rookie.

"I'm ready for it," Powell said. "It's what I've worked for. It's what I've fought for my first two years. . . I've worked, I've pushed myself in a totally different way this offseason. I'm preparing myself for a full 82-game season, for increased minutes, taking care of my body, just training and trying to improve. So I'm ready for it. I'm excited to get the season started."

Hornets: Batum to miss 6-8 weeks with elbow injury
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Hornets swingman Nicolas Batum will miss a minimum of six to eight weeks with a left elbow injury.

The team announced that an MRI on Thursday revealed the nine-year NBA veteran tore his ulnar collateral ligament in his non-dominant arm in the first quarter of Charlotte's preseason road contest against the Pistons on Wednesday.

The Hornets have not decided if Batum will need surgery or will attempt to rehab the injury.

Batum, who signed a five-year, $120 million contract in 2016, was expected to start for Charlotte. Batum's injury means Jeremy Lamb could be thrust into a starting role to open the regular season.

Batum last year became the first Charlotte player to score more than 1,000 points, grab 450 rebounds and hand out over 450 assists in a season.

Wizards: Morris rejoins team after trial, hernia surgery
WASHINGTON -- Washington Wizards power forward Markieff Morris had a busy month.

"I'm in a great position. I just had a beautiful young daughter. I just had successful surgery, and of course we beat the case," Morris said Thursday in his return to the team for the first time since his wild ride began.

The most recent milestone occurred Tuesday, when a Phoenix jury acquitted Markieff and his twin brother, Boston Celtics forward Marcus, after a two-week trial on aggravated assault charges. The Morris brothers were accused of being part of a group that beat a former friend in January 2015 outside a high school basketball game.

"Our lawyers did a great job the entire case," Morris said. "We were positive the entire time, confident that we were going to win. Just happy it's behind us and not a distraction anymore" (see full story).

Mavericks: Team leaves Carlisle, veterans at home
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle did not make the trip to Orlando for a preseason game against the Magic due to illness.

Dallas officials said associate head coach Melvin Hunt will stand in for Carlisle on Thursday night.

Carlisle was not alone in not making the trip. Veterans Dirk Nowitzki, Wesley Matthews, Harrison Barnes, Nerlens Noel, J.J. Barea, Josh McRoberts and Devin Harris also will not be in Orlando to face the Magic.

The Mavericks (2-0) are coming off a 118-71 home win over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night. Assistant coach Kaleb Canales also did not make the trip to Orlando so that he can remain in Dallas to work with the veteran players who remained at home.