Em­biid shakes off flu, feels ‘pretty good’ af­ter first prac­tice

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Jack McCaf­fery jm­c­caf­fery @21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Jack­McCaf­fery on Twit­ter

POMONA, N.J. >> The Six­ers’ long, long, long wait to be joined by Joel Em­biid took even one night more than ex­pected.

Suf­fer­ing from “flu-like symp­toms,” Em­biid did not join the Six­ers Mon­day on their overnight trip to Stock­ton Uni­ver­sity for train­ing camp. He did show up in time, how­ever, for the first work­out Tues­day, though he was lim­ited in his ac­tiv­ity.

“I’m feel­ing great,” said Em­biid, who was drip­ping in sweat af­ter­ward. “I’m a lit­tle sick and I missed the be­gin­ning and I didn’t get a chance to play. But I ran up and back a cou­ple of times, and it felt great.

“So I’m feel­ing pretty good de­spite the fact that I’m sick.”

Em­biid, the third over­all pick in the 2014 draft, had his only col­lege sea­son cut short at Kansas due to a back prob­lem, then missed two en­tire NBA sea­sons with foot frac­tures. While he re­port­edly be­gan feel­ing sick last Fri­day, he showed no such in­di­ca­tion at the Six­ers’ an­nual me­dia-day event Mon­day in Cam­den.

“We had a fan­tas­tic din­ner last night with Will Smith, ad­dress­ing our team, one of our own­ers, at One Lib­erty Place in the heart of Philadel­phia,” Brett Brown said. “Joel came in and left early and stayed in Philadel­phia be­cause of his ill­ness. He joined us this morn­ing and felt way bet­ter. We let him sleep in his own bed.

“The only lag I saw in his game was that. I didn’t no­tice it in his foot.”

Em­biid said he was put on med­i­cal re­stric­tions of 25 min­utes for the twohour long morn­ing prac­tice and 20 min­utes for a later work­out. Brown said the cen­ter did scrim­mage with the team. Em­biid did not play in the con­trolled scrim­mage at the end of prac­tice, the por­tion per­mit­ted to be wit­nessed by the press.

“Is it the flu that was slow­ing him down?” Brown said. “I thought that more than any­thing. But I think he looked good to­day.”

Em­biid said he wasn’t nec­es­sar­ily ex­pected to prac­tice Tues­day, but he in­sisted his foot and back felt fine af­ter the work­out.

“We mainly worked on the de­fen­sive side to­day and I thought I did pretty good.” he said. “Be­cause I was sick, I didn’t feel good out there. But I waited too long for this. I had to get out there.”

••• An early in­di­ca­tion of Brown’s so­lu­tion to the three-cen­ter crowd: He is al­ready tout­ing Jahlil Okafor’s tal­ents away from the bas­ket.

“I learned last year how ca­pa­ble he is at an el­bow,” the coach said, “and how ca­pa­ble he is at turn­ing and fac­ing from 17 feet. We all drafted him and re­mem­bered him at Duke for be­ing a back-to-the-bas­ket, low­post beast. He was re­ally elite and gifted as a post player. But I think he is equally ca­pa­ble of fac­ing up from 17, 18 feet. He can also put it to the floor, has a lit­tle shake to his han­dle and can make moves off the drib­ble. And so I hope to put him in the ar­eas where he has a real chance to suc­ceed.”

Okafor is OK with any as­sign­ment.

“We talked about it last year,” Okafor said. “But what­ever style we have this year, I’m not sure.”

••• El­ton Brand, 37, is vir­tu­ally des­tined to be lim­ited to an ad­di­tional coach-on-the-floor prac­tice player this sea­son. But as for his at­ti­tude in train­ing camp, the most ac­com­plished player on the Six­ers’ ros­ter in­tends to com­pete for play­ing time.

“When they start the game and I am out there and have a chance,” he said, “I am play­ing for min­utes for sure.”

Brand, who has shed some weight from last sea­son, was pleased with his Day 1 ef­fort.

“I feel good,” he said. “Af­ter all these years, we are all fight­ing for min­utes. So you have to go out and show what you’ve got.” The Six­ers will be en­camped at Stock­ton through Fri­day. They will open the pre­sea­son Oct. 4 in Amherst, Mass., against Bos­ton.

“We’ve got six ses­sions this week where you want to come out of it with enough to go play the Celtics,” Brown said. “Can we do more with this group this year? Yes. But I don’t want to speed things up. We want to have a base that is solid.”

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