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NBA AM: Is It Worse Than We Thought?

Are the problems between the 76ers and Joel Embiid worse than we thought? …. Still no update on Steve Kerr.

Steve Kyler profile picture
Updated 10 months ago on
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Trouble In Philly?:  A rather scathing report from Brian Geltzeiler of The Cauldron published at SI.com paints a hugely negative picture of the Philadelphia 76ers and their rebuilding plans.

In the piece, the 76ers are said to be at odds with injured big man Joel Embiid and struggled all year to keep the promising big man on program.

The fact that Brown sent Embiid home from a West Coast road trip last season for being insubordinate to the team’s strength coach and training staff is well documented, but according to a source, the tipping point in the decision was Embiid physically threatening the strength coach on that road trip. According to sources, this followed a pattern of insubordination from Embiid during the rehabilitation of his initial foot injury that sidelined him for the entire 2014–15 season, where he would repeatedly refuse to answer questions from the training staff about his workouts and therapy sessions.Brian Geltzeiler - The Cauldron

The gist of the story suggests that Embiid had run-ins with the 76ers training staff, failed to follow the rehab program the team laid out for him and struggled with a diet and nutrition program the team had asked him to follow.

While all of this paints a pretty negative picture of the 76ers’ rebuild as it pertains to Embiid, none of it is overly surprising.

During the season last year, there were reports of Embiid gaining weight and butting heads with staffers and that he was often asked to dial back his running and jumping.

Sixers head coach Brett Brown was asked to comment on the story and while he disputed some aspects of the story, he did acknowledge that a lot of this had been covered already.

“This story is old. It’s been documented. The media did a hell of a job reporting accurately what has been going on,” Brown said to Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “To all of a sudden wake up and have these things be revisited, I think in some ways is unfortunate and sad.”

Embiid underwent a second surgery on his navicular bone, and is expected to miss the entire season as he again tries to recover from the fracture.

Brown said he was pleased with what he’s seen from Embiid and said he understood the frustrations that come with injury.

“I’m proud of where Joel Embiid is at,” Brown said. “He’s had a rough few years of not playing. He will get there. We’re moving him forward. And more importantly, he’s moving himself forward.”

The 76ers drafted rookie Jahlil Okafor with the third overall selection in the 2015 NBA Draft, leading many to question Embiid’s long-term future in Philly, especially with promising big man Nerlens Noel also on the roster.

With so much disconnect being reported between the franchise and Embiid, it’s hard to imagine that Embiid has endeared himself enough to be untouchable, especially for a franchise that’s been looking to trade up in the talent pool every chance they get.

It’s hard to imagine that the 76ers, who abruptly traded Michael Carter-Williams after believing he was not on board with the plan, wouldn’t explore moving Embiid if and when he gets healthy – especially if year two of the rehab goes as rocky as the first year.

Kerr’s Status Still Not Clear:  Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr underwent back surgery this offseason and has been struggling to get to a point where he can handle the rigors of life as an NBA coach.

Kerr took a small leave of absence from the team to try and get himself right, but with the NBA regular season just around the corner – seven days and counting – Kerr’s status still is not clear.

Interim head coach Luke Walton said the team is still taking it day by day with Kerr.

“He still doesn’t know,” Walton said to Marc Stein and Ethan Sherwood Strauss of ESPN.com. “He’s not going to force a return. There’s no timetable still. He’s been around more lately, which is great. As long as it’s not affecting his recovery, I think it’s healthy for the guys to see him.

“Steve’s brilliant at giving quick, clean messages to the players when they need it. He’s been able to do that the last couple days. He just told me I’m doing a great job, just keep doing what you’re doing; the guys are going to take care of some stuff you’re probably stressing about; we have really good players and so we’ll be fine.”

The Warriors are prepared to open the season without Kerr and believe that in short order he’ll be able to return to his normal duties.

Sources close to the process say he has been very involved in supporting Walton and helping provide guidance and support to not only his staff but also his players.

Kerr had been dealing with numerous issues related to his surgery; however, sources said additional surgery did not seem necessary at this point and that treatment and rest was the best course of action.

The Warriors last season were able to get through the regular season without any major injuries to its players, something that added to their ability to win the conference and ultimately the championship.

Time will tell how impactful not having Kerr on the sidelines will ultimately be, but for now it’s looking more and more likely that Kerr won’t be calling the shots on opening day.

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Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.

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