The Philadelphia Sixers have had a tremendous season so far, going 21-35 as all-star weekend commences. There are numerous reasons for fans to be jubilated about the team. Both rookies Joel Embiid and Dario Saric have exceeded every expectation fans had set for them. No one anticipated Embiid even competing for an all-star spot this season but it happened. The two year wait for both of them was long and grueling, but it seems worth it. Even with so much to be excited about, the team’s front office has made relatively obvious mistakes lately that should concern fans.
Joel Embiid’s knee injury is a reason for concern and it’s just as worrisome see how the franchise has handled the situation. The 7’2” Cameroonian has missed 14 of the team’s most recent 15 games. Initially it was called a bone bruise with some swelling. Last weekend Bryan Colangelo finally informed the media that Embiid actually suffered a small tear in his meniscus. According to head coach Brett Brown, he is expected to return after the all-star break but Colangelo’s role in this situation has been problematic at best.
Players being misdiagnosed aren’t uncommon in the NBA. If the team’s conclusion to his injury was genuinely incorrect that’s one thing, but the front office isn’t that stupid. Embiid has an obvious history of knee and foot injuries. It makes sense to be precautious with such a talented young player.
But, this situation also suggests a pattern of disregard on Colangelo’s part. This is identical to Okafor’s situation at the end of last season. He also had a slight tear in his knee that was initially reported as just a bone bruise. The fans have a right to know what’s going on with their players. Fans are paying everyone’s salary so keeping them happy and informed is crucial.
The curious case of Benjamin Simmons is just getting to the good part. Simmons broke his foot and had a Jones fracture in October. A Jones fracture is when the foot’s fifth metatarsal bone breaks. It often requires surgery and a 2-3 month recovery time. It’s been five months now and the team has not mentioned any setbacks. Taking this long to make his debut after such an injury is shocking considering he doesn’t have extensive foot problems predating this current injury. He’s only 20-years old. It shouldn’t take this long. Brett Brown recently said Simmons will in fact play this season but even having that question needing to be addressed should raise eyebrows.
For fans worried about if he’ll return to his old level of play at LSU, Kevin Durant suffered a Jones fracture and look at how well he’s played since the injury two years ago.
Embiid is the only big man on the Sixers that should feel absolutely safe they won’t be traded before the deadline in a week. It appears that the odd one out is Jahlil Okafor. The trade talks reached a boiling point earlier this week that resulted in him sitting out and not traveling with the team to Charlotte for a game. A player should not sit out because of trade rumors unless the move is imminent; otherwise it’s just a distraction.
Okafor has handled this situation very well and should be applauded for it. There’s no reason he shouldn’t have traded to Charlotte. There was no trade looming. He was told otherwise, intentionally or not, which is why he missed those games but in actuality it was a ruse to garner higher offers when they thought he’d be off the market soon. Trying to get more return in a trade is only natural, but sending a message to the city and to him that a trade was imminent when there really wasn’t one lined up is devious and wrong.
Bryan Colangelo has proven to be a competent general manager so far. He made the obvious selection of taking Ben Simmons with the first overall pick and then selected two more raw talents in Timothe Luwawu-Cabbarot and Furkan Korkmaz, which aligns with his predecessor’s philosophy of long term potential over minor short term success. Colangelo then even got free agents Gerald Henderson, Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez to sign with the team. But the team is facing a critical juncture from here throughout the rest of the season and this can either further or hinder The Process’ long-term success.
Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports