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, but Simmons’ absence could also be exacerbating it.
“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’s return for Simmons? Probably not. But there is a cost to Morey’s plan of waiting for a “difference-maker.” Also, this might make the people stop following them and just switch to bet on Euroleague women’s basketball.
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.