Shelburne: Embiid “Not anywhere close right now” to returning for Sixers

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Sixers, Embiid
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) watches from the bench as the 76ers fall behind the Boston Celtics during the second half of Game 7 in the NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series, Sunday, May 14, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

The Philadelphia 76ers are set to face the New York Knicks tonight in what will be the team’s 19th game since Joel Embiid’s last appearance. Embiid continues to recover after meniscus surgery on Feb. 6, and as the Sixers’ star continues to heal, the franchise continues to count down the days until his return. However, the latest on Embiid’s recovery, courtesy of ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, is not the most encouraging of news.

On a Tuesday edition of ESPN’s NBA Today, Shelburne gave an update on Embiid’s progress and when the Sixers are hoping he can take the court once again:

Well, he’s not anywhere close right now to coming back, but he is able to get on this court and do some light work here. The hope that they have in Philly is that they can just stay in the mix for Joel Embiid to come back the last week or so in the season, at least where he has a chance to get back some conditioning before the playoffs.”

Should Embiid return in the final week of the NBA season, roughly April 7, then that would put his recovery at nine weeks, just over the four-eight week projection.

Embiid’s return can’t come quick enough

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid looks on during the NBA basketball team’s practice on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023, in Fort Collins, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

It’s been a mixed bag in terms of success for the Sixers since Embiid’s last game, and that’s being extremely generous. With a record of 7-11 in that time, Philadelphia is treading water and yet remains the sixth seed in the East with a chance to enter a tie for fourth place with tonight’s game against New York.

In his absence, the team has immensely struggled to defend, their most recent win against the Knicks notwithstanding. While there have been moments of success and the team has been instilled with a new sense of hope due to the return of Tyrese Maxey, there is still much uncertainty with 18 games remaining.

Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey (0) drives to the basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic, Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2023, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

If Embiid is able to return in the final week of the season as Shelburne suggests is the hope, he will have roughly four games to get back into game shape ahead of the playoffs. The Sixers’ final four games of the season will be agaisnt the San Antonio Spurs, Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic, and finally the Brooklyn Nets.