Wondering what the heck is going on with Joel Embiid?
He missed his seventh straight game and 10th out of the Sixers' last 11 Wednesday night against the Spurs. The bone bruise in his knee suffered on Jan. 20 against the Blazers has made one of January's top players a non-factor for the Sixers.
But as the missed games for Embiid pile up, Brett Brown keeps repeating that there is nothing serious going on.
"It is taking so long because we are just erring, we will err on extreme caution," Brown said before Wednesday's game. "Joel is as good a fighter as I've coached in regards to challenging everybody. Look at his body language when somebody says, 'You can't go in in the overtime game.' ... He is a competitive, competitive, highly skilled young player. So that side of it factors into all of this too.
"But it shouldn't be read into or assumed something is wrong because it isn't. Everybody understands I think, we've heard it so much over the years, that we're just moving slowly and trying to move wisely."
What makes the situation so strange is that Embiid played one game in the middle of all these absences, Friday Jan. 27 at home on national TV against the Rockets on an electric night at the Wells Fargo Center. Embiid stuffed the stat sheet that night with 32 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks, and made 4 of 6 threes. The Sixers needed it all, losing by just five points to one of the Western Conference's top teams.
But since then, Embiid hasn't played. He had a light workout Wednesday morning at Sixers shootaround, and Brown thinks he's getting close.
"There's no conspiracy theory going on," Brown said. "I believe we're going to see him not too far away. ... [The knee] is not 110 percent and anything short of that we're not gonna do it."
The latest on Simmons
There is still no timetable for the return of the Sixers' other prized, injured rookie.
But Brown did reveal a few interesting tidbits Wednesday, saying he plans to have Ben Simmons participate in at least five practices before he plays in a game. He also relayed the meeting he had with Simmons and Embiid earlier this week.
"We got back from Detroit really late two nights ago and got up yesterday and had Joel and Ben in my office for 45 minutes or so just talking with them," Brown said. "Twenty minutes after that, went out onto the court and worked Joel out.
"I won't [give a date on Simmons] because we don't really have one. But it's moving forward. I know, I understand fans especially and [the media] like to have some clarity on time, but we can't give it. It's just not there. He's moving along but it doesn't answer bottom-line questions that everybody wants to hear."
When Simmons' foot is healthy enough for him to practice, Brown plans to manage his time a few different ways. Simmons could practice or play with the Sixers' D-League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers.
But Brown also noted that the way the Sixers' coaching staff is set up is a benefit to rehabbing players.
"Part of my strategy when we hired my staff, if you walked into the gym yesterday, you would have seen two low-minute guys playing with eight people on my staff that can play," Brown said. "Like, they're decent basketball players, and you've got to be versatile coming in here where you can cut up tape, coach and shoot. I feel like that forum will give us a chance to bring back Ben in a responsible way."