Report: Philadelphia has "some hope" Joel Embiid can return in late March

The biggest question in the Eastern Conference as the league moves toward the playoffs is: Will Joel Embiid be back and fully healthy?

If he returns from left knee surgery in time for the end of the season and can be his dominant self for the playoffs, Philadelphia may be the biggest threat to Boston in the East. Which is why this report that the 76ers are hopeful Embiid can return around the end of March is excellent news for 76ers fans.

Looking at Philadelphia's trade deadline moves, such as bringing in sharpshooter Buddy Heild, suggested this team was thinking Embiid would return this season. That is the trade of a team trying to win now, and Philly isn't winning a round without Embiid.

Embiid was the MVP frontrunner before his injury, averaging 35.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 1.8 blocks a game (he will not play in the required 65 games to qualify for postseason awards). No team has an answer to stop Embiid, and he gives Philly a shot in any series. Whether he returns — and, more importantly, whether he returns to form — is unanswered, but there are positive signs out of Philly.