That was fast! The same day that Joel Embiid and the 76ers announced their re-engagement, the team is listing him as probable for tomorrow’s preseason game against the Brooklyn Nets. The medical update was released to assembled media at today’s Sixers practice at Emerson College.
#Sixers center Joel Embiid is probable for Wedensday's game vs. #Nets in long Island.— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) October 10, 2017
Notably, reporting from local radio personality and real-life Burger King Howard Eskin from a while ago indicated that the Sixers might be intentionally holding out Embiid until contract negotiations were complete. The timing does seem more than coincidental, as Embiid hadn’t played full court 5-on-5 until this weekend. Here is what Eskin reported early in September, as transcribed by WIP and CBS Philly’s Andrew Porter.
“Here is breaking news,” Eskin said on the 94WIP Midday Show. “I understand — and I was gonna sit on this and wait on it, but since you asked me the question I will answer it. He’s not ready for five-on-five play, according to the Sixers. But what I understand is, his agent wants a new contract before he — remember he’s eligible to get a new deal. Now, if you’re the Sixers you can’t give him a max deal until you see that he can play, how many games he can play during the season.
“But my understanding, part of the reason that they’re saying — whoever it is that is saying that he’s not ready for five-on-five play, is because — and Joel Embiid, I don’t think worries about the money, but they listen to their agents. And the agent wants a new contract.”
Embiid previously responded, denying the report, but the timing is still interesting.
Embiid looked for Howard Eskin: "Where's he at That Howard whatever you call him." He denied Eskin's reporthe's not playing due to contract— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) September 25, 2017
Tomorrow night’s game against the Nets is currently not being televised locally, as road preseason games typically aren’t covered by NBC Sports Philadelphia. The Celtics-Sixers broadcast from last night was a simulcast of the NBC Sports Boston coverage, whereas YES Network is not within the NBC family.
Out of towners should be able to access the game on NBA League Pass. ( UPDATE : Per League Pass Support, this game is not available on League Pass anywhere.) (SECOND UPDATE: Actually, the game will be televised on NBC Sports Philly. YOU CAN WATCH.) As of now, Philadelphians will need to resort to either a radio broadcast or to other means to track the preseason debut of The Process. That’s a problem in 2017, with these fans and higher expectations.
That being said, is it worth it for Embiid to get reps before the season starts? Unless his conditioning is so far behind you think game action is the only way to improve it over the next week, I would have kept him in the proverbial bubble wrap until October 18. However, working with teammates in a stress-free environment will have its benefits and will be a welcome sight for Sixers fans, well, in New York.