April 17, 2024

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Sixers' Joel Embiid says he plans to return this season, addresses injury and next steps – NBC Sports Philadelphia

Sixers' Joel Embiid says he plans to return this season, addresses injury and next steps – NBC Sports Philadelphia

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid wore a Sixers sweatshirt, held a basketball in his hands, and sat in front of the microphones on the last day of February.

Despite missing all of the games in the month due to his left lateral meniscus injury, Embiid has undergone rehab and confirmed Thursday that he plans to return this season.

Beyond that, he didn't provide any details about the timeline.

“It's all about how I feel,” Embiid said. “Rehabilitation is going well. Ups and downs, but you can manage it. The goal is just to try to be as healthy as possible and come back.

Why would the best player in the world aim for a late-season comeback for a team currently sitting sixth in the standings? Eastern Conference standings?

“That's the same reason I've been pushing the last two games,” Embiid said. “I just love playing basketball. I want to be on the floor. I only have about 20 years to do this, so every chance I get, I want to be on the floor.”

“It doesn't matter where we are (in the standings) – four, five, three, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11. It doesn't really matter where we are, I just want to play as hard as I do.” “He can and is trying to help us.”

Regarding that emphasis on rushing, Embiid said he wouldn't have handled the stretch before Jonathan Kuminga landed on his left knee any differently.

Embiid missed five games in January with a knee injury, including the two before that painful and terrifying game against the Warriors.

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“It wasn't (just) about the last two games,” he said. “It was the same thing as a few weeks ago, where I felt like I wasn't myself but I was still good enough to go out there because I know 60 or 70 percent of me can still help the team more.” A lot on both ends of the floor.

“At that time, we had just lost two or three games in a row and the players were declining. As I said, my mentality is to play, so I have to do whatever it takes to help the team. Sometimes it helps me, sometimes it doesn’t.”

Embiid called the injury “very upsetting” and “very frustrating,” though he smiled as he described his recent transition to being a stay-at-home dad.

“Other than rehab, there is time with family,” he said of his last few weeks. “Honestly, this is probably the best time… my family, just being around them – my wife and my son. He loves it now. I'm not going anywhere, I'm not doing anything. He's gotten so used to it. He doesn't want me to leave the house anymore .

“It's fun, just playing. Obviously he goes to school, but he hangs out all day and does a bunch of different things. It's been great family time and I'm sure they're enjoying it too.”

The Sixers went 4-8 without Embiid in February. As they trended toward health after the All-Star break, De'Anthony Melton again suffered a back injury in Tuesday night's loss to the Celtics, and KJ Martin was sidelined with a right ankle impingement. Martin has not yet returned to 100 percent, although his injury does not appear to be serious. At the very least, Milton won't play Friday night against the Hornets.

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“KJ played about three-quarters of practice today,” Sixers coach Nick Nurse said. “It's still not entirely clear to do everything. However, that could change at any time. It's getting a little better every day. The Melt show has come to an end, and we don't know how long it will take.

Despite his availability, Tobias Harris has played poorly during the Sixers' four games since halftime.

Without prompting, Embiid mentioned the veteran forward on Thursday.

“What I learned from being around him is that my presence helps me a lot,” he said. “I just spoke to Tobias for about an hour the other day, just trying to help him.

“He's a good player. We all go through difficult periods and I'm sure he'll come out of it. But I think just being there – being around the team. Obviously traveling is a little different because I have to focus on my rehabilitation. But as much as I can be there, that's what I'll do.” “

As a presence on the court, Embiid knows he will be extremely valuable if he does return this season.

“I still believe that as a basketball player, I can perform much better than the level I was playing at,” he said. “I have a lot of confidence in myself and I also feel like I can bring a lot of things to the team in terms of my influence on both ends of the pitch.

“So I always believe. It doesn't matter who's on the roster, it doesn't matter who's coaching. I still believe I have a chance to win, no matter the situation.”

“We were playing at a high level, especially when everyone was healthy. I think the way Tyrese (Maxi) was playing and the players we added… obviously everyone needs to follow suit. I still think we have a very good chance.”

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