Report: Joel Embiid said he couldn’t walk after 76ers’ season opener

Joel Embiid in Philadelphia 76ers v New Orleans Pelicans
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76ers president Daryl Morey said the Ben Simmons standoff could take four years.

Does Joel Embiid – Philadelphia’s 27-year-old franchise center with a distressing injury history – have that type of time?

Not only is Embiid facing yet another knee issue, Simmons’ absence could be exacerbating it.

ESPN:

Ramona Shelburne:

He told me, after this game in New Orleans, he couldn’t walk for two days.

He’s playing, because Ben Simmons is not playing, and they need one of them on the court. He wants to show leadership.

He lost out on MVP last year, because he didn’t play quite enough games. He doesn’t want to do that again this year.

There is a sense that maybe he should sit a game or two to get that knee right, because it is a meniscus injury.

“Couldn’t walk for two days” is obviously hyperbolic. Embiid started against the Nets less than 46 hours after the Pelicans game ended.

Still, this sounds significant (as do nearly all injuries with Embiid, given his past). He hasn’t looked as dominant as usual so far this season, though obviously sample-size caveats apply just three games in.

The 76ers could trade Simmons for players who’d alleviate the burden on Embiid right now. Would that maximize Philadelphia return for Simmons? Probably not. But there is a cost to Morey’s plan of waiting for a “difference maker.”

Perhaps, upgrades to his supporting cast wouldn’t change Embiid’s plan. He wants to win MVP and might have last season if he stayed healthy. We’ve seen players look like they pushed themselves too hard in the regular season in pursuit of MVP and ran out of gas in the playoffs.

Embiid is in his prime, still pushing the boundaries of his game. The 76ers are rightly building around him. That includes considering him heavily when assessing the Simmons situation.