Let’s just say Joel Embiid isn’t super happy about the playing-time restriction that will prevent the Philadelphia 76ers center from playing more than 20 minutes per night to begin his second season.
Actually, the exact phrase Embiid used to describe the minutes restriction was “f***ing bulls***.”
Sixers coach Brett Brown revealed to reporters at Monday’s practice that Embiid would continue to play under a minutes limit. “I don’t really know if there’s a solid number,” said Brown, via The Philadelphia Inquirer. “If you were to choose a number, it would be somewhere like in the teens.”
That’s less than the cap the Sixers put on Embiid’s minutes last season, when he hovered around 20 minutes per night for the first few weeks before increasing that load to 28 for the remainder of the year in late November. Two months later, he suffered a season-ending knee injury — this after foot ailments cost him the first two years of his career. Needless to say, Embiid just wants to play ball.
“That’s f***ing bulls***,” he told reporters at Tuesday’s practice, via NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jessica Camerato. “I wish I was playing more minutes. I think I’m ready for more than, I don’t know, whatever number they have. I don’t know. I wish I was playing more, but we’re going to see how that goes.”
Embiid went on to say he’s expressed that frustration to the team, he believes how his body feels is more important than a minutes restriction, and he understands team doctors are looking out for his best interest. It is understandable both that he wants to further impact winning games and that the team wants to protect the asset in whom they just invested a five-year, $148 max contract extension.
The biggest surprise here is that the news came as a shock to Embiid. He apparently hadn’t been informed of the restriction when Brown relayed it to the media on Monday, and when reporters informed the 7-foot-2 Cameroonian shortly afterward, he responded, “Ah, s***. I didn’t know that.”
Earlier in the summer, Sixers GM Bryan Colangelo said the team didn’t anticipate a minutes restriction for Embiid this season. But he still wasn’t cleared for full contact as training camp approached. He missed the first three preseason games, and then played just 29 minutes over the final two, collecting 27 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and two blocks, flashing the same per-minute production that made him a borderline All-Star and Rookie of the Year favorite through 30 games last season.
You’ll have to forgive Philadephia fans for rolling their eyes. They have repeatedly been given shady injury timelines from the 76ers on just about every lottery pick who has passed through their doors over the last few years. Now, barely 24 hours after the team announced No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz would begin the season coming off the bench, Embiid is frustrated with his minutes restriction.
Not only that, but the team didn’t even bother to break the news to him. You’ll never guess how Embiid signed off. Actually, you will. “Like I always say,” he finished, “you’ve got to trust the process.”
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