76ers

Joel Embiid on getting in game shape for Sixers: 'It's a process'

Joel Embiid on getting in game shape for Sixers: 'It's a process'

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid spent two years rehabbing his foot to return to the court. Now that he is back, there is more to the season than just being healthy. 

For the countless hours Embiid poured into his recovery, there was no replicating the grind of real game action until he physically experienced it. 

“I’m getting there,” Embiid said following practice Tuesday. “I would say health-wise I’m 200 percent, but as far as game-shape-wise I would say I’m not 100 percent. I still get tired.”

The Sixers eased Embiid into NBA action with a 12-minute restriction, of which he played in three- to four-minute segments. Over five preseason games, his minutes have increased to 20. The team has discussed utilizing him up to 24 for the first game of the season on Oct. 26. 

Embiid played 5½ minutes to start the last game against the Pistons, a range he is comfortable with at this point. The Sixers have not discussed increasing those spurts with him.

“I don’t think I’m ready to play eight minutes straight yet,” Embiid said. “It’s going to take time, getting back in shape and getting used to the speed of the game. I’m already getting used to the five-minute clumps I’ve been playing.”

Embiid is confident he can improve his conditioning. He looks forward to drills and scrimmages in which he can push himself. 

“It starts in practice,” Embiid said. “Running the floor, playing every possession, try to take less breaks, which I did today and yesterday. My legs are still heavy so after that I have to take care of my body, get in the cold tub. It’s a process, and you’ve got to trust it.”

Embiid also is working to lose weight. He said last week he would like to get under 270 pounds to start the regular season (see story).

“I think he’s really trying to push himself,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. “I feel like he is on track to arrive to opening night in a really good place. We always want more. I think his weight is good. I think his attention to the recovery is an A-plus.”

Embiid (and five others) went through modified training during practice on Tuesday. The team did not scrimmage (see story). Embiid is averaging 10.3 points and 5.5 rebounds in 14.2 minutes this preseason. 

NBA free agency rumors: Don’t count out Sixers? Examining Al Horford’s possible fit

NBA free agency rumors: Don’t count out Sixers? Examining Al Horford’s possible fit

Al Horford reportedly opting out of his deal and leaving the Celtics is outstanding news for the Sixers.

But what if it meant that Horford would be on his way to Philadelphia?

With Horford set to hit the open market, one GM told NBC Sports national NBA insider Tom Haberstroh, a guest on 97.5 the Fanatic’s morning show, “not to count out” the Sixers as a landing spot.

While the stats don’t bear it out, Horford has been an integral part to what Boston has done over the years. He’s versatile and tough defensively. He’s an excellent passer for a big and has expanded his game out to the three-point line. He’s likely the only player in the entire league capable of guarding both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Speaking of Embiid, Horford is a rare player in that he could possibly play with and also backup the All-Star center.

But would he fit here and does it make sense with how it would affect the whole roster? Horford is 33 so he doesn’t necessarily fit from that perspective. He is reportedly looking for a four-year deal so whatever team signs him could be paying him around $20 million at age 37. While he theoretically could play with Embiid, that’s not a sure thing.

If you make this move, you’re also not re-signing Tobias Harris. Sixers fans really soured on Harris after a poor performance in Game 4 against the Raptors. He became a scapegoat of sorts when the team’s problems were much bigger. Harris is 26, a borderline All-Star and has improved every season. It seems like people forget that Harris had an excellent regular season and was playing in the postseason for just the second time in his career. He was also excellent in the Brooklyn series, playing off way more effective versions Embiid and Simmons.

So what it boils down to is this: Sign Horford or re-sign Harris. Harris is younger, ascending and already has a relationship with players inside the locker room. Horford is an attractive option if Harris chooses to sign elsewhere in hopes of having a bigger offensive role, but the Sixers’ priority should still be to #RunItBack with Harris and Jimmy Butler.

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2019 NBA Draft Preview Show: How to watch on MyTeams app

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

2019 NBA Draft Preview Show: How to watch on MyTeams app

With the draft a few hours away, our basketball analysts all around the country are breaking down the key storylines, expectations and predictions for the team they cover.

You can watch the 2019 NBA Draft Preview Show live on the MyTeams app at 3 p.m. ET. You can also stream the show right here on NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com by clicking here

Download the MyTeams app here

Here are the essentials:

Date: Thursday, June 20
Time: 3 p.m. ET
Where: MyTeams App and NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com

Who:
Ian Begley — Knicks
Sherrod Blakely — Celtics
James Ham — Kings
Paul Hudrick — Sixers
Dwight Jaynes — Blazers
Chris Miller — Wizards
Monte Poole — Warriors
Mark Schanowski — Bulls
Chris Forsberg — Celtics
Jamie Hudson — Blazers
Serena Winters — Sixers

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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