76ers

Bryan Colangelo: Joel Embiid has 'very minor meniscal tear' in left knee

Bryan Colangelo: Joel Embiid has 'very minor meniscal tear' in left knee

Hours after Joel Embiid said after the Sixers' morning shootaround Saturday that he was "not healthy," president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo revealed the rookie big man has "a very minor meniscal tear" in his left knee found in an MRI on Jan. 20.

"On the MRI that was conducted shortly after the injury vs. Portland, the MRI revealed obviously what we thought it to be — a bone bruise," Colangelo said before the Sixers' game against Miami on Saturday.

"There was also the recognition that there was a very minor meniscal tear. But it was not thought to be acute and it was not thought to be the source of the pain, inflammation or symptoms. That is the case."

Since the tear is not believed to be acute, the injury "likely or could have been pre-existing," according to Colangelo. Embiid is being treated for the bone bruise, Colangelo said.

"The bone bruise treatment and progression toward getting back to play is simply a pattern of loading and recovery and training that ultimately results in him being asymptomatic," Colangelo said. "Once he is asymptomatic, he'll be back on the court."

Embiid has missed nine straight games and 12 of the Sixers' last 13. Embiid missed three games after the Jan. 20 game against Portland, but then returned against the Rockets on Jan. 27 and suffered a left knee contusion. He's been out since and is still dealing with soreness and swelling.

Why let Embiid play against the Rockets on Jan. 27? According to Colangelo, Embiid's symptoms had subsided and symptoms were "non-reactive in any kind of way" in the four days of practicing leading up to the Houston game. It wasn't until Jan. 29 the swelling began, Colangelo said.

"From that time forward, we're back to the same path of trying to treat the symptoms, not the MRI, but once again as we look to get him back," Colangelo said. "We’re trying to do the best path toward him getting back on the basketball court. But all in all, it’s all about the long-term health and viability of the athlete.”

Derek Bodner first reported the injury. According to Bodner, it's a low-grade tear and it will not require surgery.

Embiid is not expected to return before the All-Star break. Colangelo said Saturday that it's "very unlikely" he plays before the All-Star break, citing lack of practice opportunities before then. The Sixers have two games this week before next weekend's break after Saturday's game against Miami. Colangelo also said Embiid will not participate in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge and the Skills Challenge.

"He’s progressing well, but we’re still contemplating that if he doesn’t play in Charlotte on Monday or in Boston on Wednesday, he’s certainly not going to play in the Rising Stars game," Colangelo said. "But it’s more than likely we’ll hold him back until the end of the All-Star break, because that gives us the clearest path to a number of days where he can progress toward full health and recovery."

Colangelo said there was no reason to shut down Embiid because of the injury according to the medical information they have, and they will continue to treat the symptoms. He also pointed to Ben Simmons' potential return as a reason why he wouldn't shut Embiid down because the Sixers would like "an idea of exactly what we have."

"Once he's healthy and has fully progressed to the point where it's a clear path to a return to play," Colangelo said, "we'll get him back out there to play. But again, at this stage, once again, it's not thought to be a severe injury.

"If it was anything other than that, I'd be possibly singing a different tune."

CSNPhilly.com's Jessica Camerato contributed to this report.

Should the Sixers pursue Austin Rivers?

Should the Sixers pursue Austin Rivers?

With how desperately the Sixers need bench help, every name that comes up will be of interest.

Enter Austin Rivers.

Rivers is expected to be waived by the Suns after being moved to Phoenix from Washington in the Trevor Ariza deal. Rivers’ $12,650,000 cap hit helped the Wizards facilitate the deal, but there’s no real spot for the 26-year-old guard on the Suns’ roster. An earlier report had Rivers on his way to Memphis, but as of this posting, “four to five other teams are still expressing interest,” and the Grizzlies haven’t made a formal offer.

So should the Sixers have interest in Rivers? At first glance, the answer is "no," but let's examine the case.

First, let’s talk about what he brings to the table. He can score and he’s certainly not afraid to shoot. He was over 37 percent from three during his last two seasons in L.A. before a miserable and brief tenure in D.C. He has playoff experience, having played 23 postseason games. 

There are plenty of concerns. For his career, he’s a 35 percent shooter from three, which is about league average. That’s fine, but he’s shooting just 31 percent from three this season. He has experience as a point guard, but he’s really not much of a facilitator — though his turnover numbers aren’t bad — and may be too ball dominant to fit this roster. Nobody is going to mistake him for a defensive dynamo either. There is also concern that Rivers was basically given away by the Clippers, Wizards and now the Suns.

With all that said, the Sixers are desperate for legitimate NBA players to come off their bench. Rivers is far from a perfect player but he does satisfy some of their bench needs. He can score off the bounce a little and if he can shoot at the level he did the last two seasons in L.A., that would help. As mentioned, don’t expect much from him defensively, but what do you expect from the current Sixers’ reserves?

He’ll cost next to nothing and as long as you go into it with extremely low expectations, maybe you can get something out of him with your empty roster spot. Rivers did help the Clippers in 2016-17 — his best season as mostly a reserve — win 51 games and the West’s fourth seed. JJ Redick was on that team. Redick could provide intel and perhaps help the Sixers get the most out of Rivers.

Elton Brand may have something else already in the works. Then again, making a trade won’t be easy. Most of the players that would appeal to the Sixers have big cap numbers and it would be difficult to match salaries. I don’t believe Brand will punt on the 2018-19 season, but I do think it’ll be much easier for him to improve this team’s depth in the offseason.

While I still lean toward not adding Rivers, you can't blame Brand if he takes a flyer on the guy with the state of the current bench and with little trade options.

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Spurs 123, Sixers 96: Sixers sleepwalk through uninspiring loss to Spurs

Spurs 123, Sixers 96: Sixers sleepwalk through uninspiring loss to Spurs

BOX SCORE

Going from Cleveland to San Antonio doesn’t seem like an ideal road trip.

The Sixers likely agree after sleepwalking their way through an uninspiring 123-96 loss to the Spurs at the AT&T Center Monday.

The loss drops them to 6-10 on the road and 20-12 overall.

Here are observations from the drubbing.

• Feels like we’re a broken record but the bench is just killing this team.

T.J. McConnell hurt them defensively early on. The Spurs were using their point guards to screen for DeMar DeRozan, forcing McConnell to switch onto the All-Star guard. It went predictably bad. 

Landry Shamet continues to struggle against dribble penetration and the physicality of the NBA. Mike Muscala got roasted when matched up against LaMarcus Aldridge. 

Credit to Gregg Popovich. He saw these mismatches and the Spurs exposed them. But Elton Brand is going to have to make a move to improve this bench.

• While the reserves were certainly a crucial factor in the Sixers losing an early lead, the starters came out in the second half and did nothing to eat into the Spurs’ lead. Fatigue is no doubt a factor, but this was a brutal effort.

The most telling stat is free throws. The Sixers are among the league’s best in getting to the line, but took just seven free throws.

• Ben Simmons continued his aggressive ways. He was once again looking for his shot when driving to the basket and it led to 16 points (7 of 10 shooting), six rebounds and six assists in just 29 minutes.

He continues to do some nifty work in the post as well.

Simmons looked like the one player that was locked in and engaged all night.

• Joel Embiid dominated early on yet again.

But unlike other coaches that have waited until the second half — for some reason — Popovich started doubling Embiid as soon as he got going. Embiid took just one shot in the second half and was 0 for 6 from three. 

He finished with just 13 points, his third-lowest point total this season, on 6 of 17 shooting.

• Jimmy Butler had a brutal shooting night. In his second game back from a groin strain, Butler finished just 3 of 13 for six points.

He did have this nice alley-oop.

• DeRozan continues to kill the Sixers. In four games against them last season, he averaged 32 points per contest. Tonight, he recorded 20 points in 29 minutes. DeRozan is a perfect example of a player that always hurts the Sixers. He can score in isolation and is deadly in the midrange. 

Aldridge, who also finished with 20 points, also proved to be a tough guard for the Sixers. He’s one center that can pull Embiid away from the basket with his ability to hit midrange jumpers. As mentioned, he cooked Muscala in the post. 

• Rudy Gay is having a productive season for the Spurs as he dropped a game-high 21 points. He’s an accomplished veteran that can create and make shots. He also appears to be playing with a little more purpose on the defensive end than earlier in his career.

It’s only mentioned here because he’s the kind of player the Sixers sure could use. The Spurs are on the outside looking in at the playoffs, though it is early. If San Antonio is looking to possibly get an asset for Gay at some point if they fall out of contention, Elton Brand should place a call.

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