By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
— Tom Moore (@TomMoorePhilly) September 20, 2017
The Sixers held their annual media luncheon Wednesday afternoon; head coach Brett Brown and general manager Bryan Colangelo met with a group of local media members downtown at Barbuzzo. Having just eaten there Saturday night, I can personally vouch for the delectable nature of Nonna’s meatballs. Aside from the fine cuisine, there were plenty of nuggets of information on the menu. Below are some of the most pertinent items.
Joel Embiid still not cleared for 5-on-5, timeline uncertain
Brett Brown revealed that the Sixers franchise center has still not played 5-on-5, and he’s not sure if Embiid will be able to once training camp kicks off next week. Bryan Colangelo later chipped in that there was no setback for Embiid, but it was too early to tell when he will scrimmage. Colangelo very confusingly added, “He will be out there on the first practice and the first game. The question is, how much, how little, if at all.” So he will be out there, if he is out there? The cloud over Embiid’s health continues to be a small cloud in the team’s otherwise bright outlook for the upcoming season.
Update on an Embiid extension
Colangelo also mentioned that the two parties are discussing an Embiid extension and he is “cautiously optimistic they can find common ground”. The October 16th deadline for an extension is fast approaching, but both the team and Embiid’s camp may still be far apart. Based on his talent level, Embiid deserves a max contract. However, the fact that he only has 31 career games under his belt and is still not cleared for 5-on-5 is understandably causing the team to hesitate in shelling out that much money.
Other stories as the rotation turns
Coach Brown said he anticipates Robert Covington starting and ending games for the Sixers. This proclamation should finally put to rest what the starting lineup will be, for those still questioning it. The team will roll out Markelle Fultz, J.J. Redick, Robert Covington, Ben Simmons, and Joel Embiid, with Dario Saric in the 6th man role.
Fortunately, while Embiid’s situation is still fuzzy, things appear clear as day for Ben Simmons. Colangelo said there will be no restrictions on the former LSU star and Simmons has been “dominating the gym”. If Simmons is out there for heavy minutes, Coach Brown will have to figure out who to put around him, after saying he doesn’t think Simmons can be on the floor with someone else without three-point range.
One of the people who might not be considered to have sufficient three-point range is TJ McConnell, but although people have made the point that Jerryd Bayless was brought in partly due to his fit alongside Simmons, it appears we should expect to see TJ out there. Brown praised his young point guard, saying, “how can we not play TJ?…the kid wins.”
Finally, the proverbial fly in the punch bowl, Jahlil Okafor, was brought up, with Brown telling those in attendance, “we’re gonna see what goes on with the rest of the league in relation to whatever else is out there.” Okafor may have switched to a mostly vegan diet and gotten himself in better shape, but he would appear that his future lies elsewhere. Whether the Sixers can actually get anything of value for him remains to be seen.