Joel Embiid expects to rejoin the Sixers this season: 'That's the plan'

Keith Pompey, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Basketball

PHILADELPHIA — Swiftly sliding down the stands, the 76ers shouldn’t be armed with this much hope. Yet inside the team’s practice facility on Thursday, there was a clear sense of optimism from the Eastern Conference’s sixth-place team.

While the Sixers (33-25) have stumbled and stalled while losing 12 of their last 16 games, they remain confident that their trajectory will change if Joel Embiid returns.

In his first media availability since Jan. 25, the reigning league MVP was asked if he’s coming back this season.

“That’s the plan,” he said. “Obviously, everything has to go right, as far as getting healthy and being as close as I’m supposed to be. But that’s the plan.”

Embiid said there’s really no timeline for his return. It all depends on how his body responds, especially after begins ramping, he said.

“If it feels great then that’s good,” Embiid said. “If it doesn’t feel good, then you gotta keep going.”


However, the seven-time All-Star is scheduled to be re-evaluated early next week. And recent reports suggest he could return in mid to late March.

While the timeline is still in flux, making a healthy return from meniscus surgery is important for Embiid no matter when it occurs.

“I just love playing basketball,” he said. “I just want to be on the floor as much as possible. I only have about 20 years to do this. So any chance that I get, I want to be on the floor. So it doesn’t matter where we are [in the standings], I don’t know, four, five, three, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11. It didn’t really matter where we are. I just want to play as much as we can and try to help us.”

The injury has not influenced his plans to play for U.S. basketball in this summer’s Paris Olympics. He’s taking the same mindset he’s applied to the Sixers’ season.


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