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