Nick Nurse addresses ‘whispers’ about Joel Embiid’s recovery and return process

Mike Battaglino
3 Min Read
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Nurse said he believes that whispers about injured Philadelphia 76ers superstar Joel Embiid being back on the court are true, but the head coach has not seen it with his own eyes.

“He did see the doctor last week,” Nurse said. “They’re happy with the progress. The whispers of him being on court I believe are true, but I haven’t seen any of him. We’ve been gone for a long time. Just got back yesterday, I think. And I haven’t seen him.”

The 76ers are playing at home Saturday against the Charlotte Hornets after spending most of the past week on the road with two games at the New York Knicks and a game at the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday.

Embiid has not played since Jan. 30 and has missed 22 of the past 23 games after having a procedure on the meniscus in his left knee. The reigning NBA MVP from the 2022-23 season also missed seven of nine games earlier in December and January.

Nurse said he is “pretty confident” the center will be able to return this season.

Earlier this week, ESPN NBA insider Ramona Shelburne reported that Embiid is not close to being able to return but was on the court and doing some light work.

Philadelphia was 7-17 in its past 24 games heading into Saturday’s matchup against the Hornets. The 76ers were in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, engaged in a tight battle with the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat for sixth place and a guaranteed playoff position that would avoid the play-in round.

The 30-year-old has been able to play in just 34 games this season and is averaging 35.3 points, 11.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game.

After he was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the center famously had his NBA debut delayed for two entire seasons while dealing with a foot injury. He seemingly had become more durable lately, playing in 66 and 68 regular season games the past two seasons, respectively.

Despite a somewhat unsuccessful playoff history to date in his career, the 76ers undoubtedly need Embiid back to have any hope of a long postseason run. Philadelphia has won five of six first-round series with Embiid but has lost all five of the subsequent second-round series, including last season to the Boston Celtics in seven games after dropping the final two contests.

The sooner Embiid can come back the better, both for the 76ers’ regular season finish and ultimate playoff outlook.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has focused on New York sports. He has covered the NBA and NFL for almost three decades and is still waiting for the next championship for the Knicks and Jets.