Kawhi Leonard uncertain for Spurs-Sixers game
It is unclear if rookie center Joel Embiid will be available Wednesday, when the Philadelphia 76ers host the San Antonio Spurs.
The same can be said of another of the Sixers’ highly drafted centers, Jahlil Okafor, though for an entirely different reason.
Multiple outlets have reported that Okafor is the subject of trade talks between Philadelphia and the New Orleans Pelicans. The Sixers would reportedly receive center Alexis Ajinca and a future first-round pick in return for Okafor, though a deal had not been consummated as of early Tuesday afternoon.
Embiid sat out his sixth straight game with a bone bruise of the left knee Monday, when Philadelphia lost 113-96 in Detroit, and has missed nine of the last 10. His only appearance in that span was in a nationally televised loss to Houston on Jan. 27, when he poured in 32 points.
Coach Brett Brown told Philly.com on Monday that he was unsure if Embiid would face the Spurs.
“When we hear me and others talk about that extreme caution, I think it shouldn’t surprise anybody,” he said. “In fact, I think people should get upset if they hear anything else … given where we are at right now.
“So we take it to the extreme on managing Joel Embiid’s health.”
Okafor, who missed Saturday’s loss in Miami with a bruised right knee, started in place of Embiid on Monday and scored 16 points. The Sixers, however, dropped their fourth straight game, and their sixth in the last seven, to fall to 18-33.
Afterward Okafor said he is doing his best to tune out the outside noise.
“I’m happy where I am right now,” he told Philly.com. “So we will see what happens. It’s all rumors right now. Until it comes true, nothing I can do about it. I’m only going to worry about what I can control.”
Sixers forward Robert Covington also returned against Detroit, after missing the three previous games with a bruised right hand. He went 2 of 10 from the floor and scored 11 points.
That same night San Antonio (39-12) opened its eight-game rodeo road trip without its leading scorer, forward Kawhi Leonard (quadriceps contusion), and lost 89-74 to Memphis.
The point total was a season low for San Antonio, which was outscored 20-9 in the fourth quarter. The Spurs’ field-goal percentage (.366), 3-point percentage (.211) and free throw percentage (.556) were also season lows.
According to the San Antonio Express-News, they missed 22 of their final 25 shots and made one field goal in the last 7:25. Veteran forward LaMarcus Aldridge missed 15 of 19 shots from the floor while scoring 13 points.
“Without Kawhi, I have to be better out there and I wasn’t good tonight,” Aldridge told the Express-News. “I have to be better.”
It is unclear if Leonard will be available Wednesday night. His 25.3 point-per-game average, a career high, is 11th-best in the NBA. He scored 19 to lead seven Spurs in double figures last Thursday, when San Antonio routed the visiting Sixers, 102-86.