NBA rumors: Joel Embiid update, Spurs French Connection, Warriors odd man out

  • Kevon Looney not expected back with Warriors next season
  • Killian Hayes labeled as potential Spurs target
  • Joel Embiid expected back in late March

Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages
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NBA rumors: 76ers expect Joel Embiid back in late March

The Philadelphia 76ers fandom received some positive injury news on Tuesday. According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, there is "hope" the Sixers can get All-Star center Joel Embiid back on the floor in late March.

Of note, the Sixers' goal is not to win regular season games at this point. The team wants to get Embiid up to speed for the playoffs, which start in mid-April. Time is of the essence. Embiid has missed the last 11 games after undergoing surgery on a torn meniscus.

Before the injury, Embiid was well on his way to a second straight MVP award, averaging 35.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 5.7 assists on .533/.366/.883 splits in 34.0 minutes. He won't jump right back in at 100 percent capacity, but the Sixers clearly need Embiid out there. Philadelphia is 4-7 since Embiid went down, with notable losses to Milwaukee, New York, and Miami. The Sixers are desperately ill-equipped to handle the league's elite teams without Embiid anchoring both ends of the court.

There are also a few key additions to the roster. The Sixers need to let Embiid build up as much chemistry with Buddy Hield and Kyle Lowry as possible before the playoffs start. That's not so say the Sixers should rush him back if he's not ready — long-term durability is still the primary goal here — but if he's ready, the Sixers need to undergo a crash course in new player dynamics in the weeks leading up to the postseason.

Maybe this is all a bit shortsighted. It's hard to see the Sixers recovering from this and winning the title in a conference that includes the Celtics buzzsaw, as well as Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard in Milwaukee, or that tough-as-nails Knicks team. But, there's simply no wasting a year of Embiid's prime. Even if that year has been cut short and irrevocably damaged. The Sixers still have enough talent to make a bit of noise if the basketball gods smile upon them.

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