Joel Embiid: 'I intend to play every game' next season

Joel Embiid: 'I intend to play every game' next season

NEW YORK — Eighty-two games including back-to-backs. Joel Embiid has set high expectations for his second NBA season and return from injury. 

Embiid is continuing to rehab from season-ending surgery in mid-March for a meniscus tear in his left knee. On Tuesday, he represented the Sixers on stage at the 2017 draft lottery (see story) where he gave an update on his progress. He said he will be ready for opening night.

"[My offseason goal is to] make sure my body's ready because I think next year I'll be able to play almost every game," Embiid said. "Just make sure my body's ready to take on the toll of the NBA schedule, back-to-backs, but I intend to play every game and we're going to see how it goes. It's about getting strong and getting my legs strong and making sure I'm ready for next year."

It is very likely Embiid will be under restrictions when he returns. This past season, he was capped at 28 minutes and held out of back-to-backs as the Sixers closely monitored him after he was sidelined by foot injuries the previous two years. So does he plan to play in back-to-backs for the first time next season?

"Oh yeah, definitely," Embiid said. 

Embiid is slated to have another scan in the upcoming weeks, at which point he hopes to be cleared for additional basketball activity. At this point, he has not been jumping in his rehab program. Embiid said he expects to participate in 5-on-5 drills this offseason. He will not participate in summer league.

"Every day I go in and do some rehab on my knee, on my whole body basically," Embiid said. "Then [I] get on the court, shoot a little bit flat-footed, and then lift. After lifting, I go in the pool and [on the] treadmill and then start running in the pool. Usually I'm there for about four, five hours every day.

"Each day it's been going great. I think I've still got two or three more weeks to go until the next scan. If everything looks good after that scan, I'm going to start jumping and doing more stuff." 

Embiid wants to push the Sixers to the next level next season after the team showed signs of promise when he was on the court. He knows he has to take care of his body this offseason to make that happen. 

"I think we're going to have different expectations next year," Embiid said. "I'm excited about that. I want to win. I want to make the playoffs, that's a goal for me. The main goal for me is just staying healthy."

Now with Big3, Rashard Lewis praises Sixers' signing of former teammate JJ Redick

Now with Big3, Rashard Lewis praises Sixers' signing of former teammate JJ Redick

How time flies.

JJ Redick first played with Rashard Lewis on the Magic in 2007, Redick’s second season in the NBA. Ten years later, the 33-year-old Redick has signed a massive one-year, $23 million contract to be one of the Sixers’ leaders. Lewis, 37, is currently competing in the BIG3 league. 

Both Redick and Lewis are in different places in their careers than when they were teammates. Lewis sees Redick excelling in this new chapter. 

“He’s the veteran player here, but when I played with him in Orlando he was a young fella,” Lewis said. “He’s learned a lot playing with Orlando as well as the Clippers. I’m sure he’ll share a lot of his knowledge with these guys because they’ve got a very young team.”

Redick’s NBA insight came from doing a lot of observing early on. He didn’t start off as the main offensive option. Instead, he was a student of the game in his early days with the Magic while Lewis was one of the go-to players. 

Redick averaged just 6.0 points as a rookie and 4.1 points in 8.1 minutes per game during his second season. He clocked a total of 10 minutes during a 2008 postseason in which the Magic reached the Eastern Conference semifinals. The following season in 2009, though, Redick averaged over 20 minutes during their NBA Finals run. The Magic also made it to the Eastern Conference finals the next year.

“The chemistry we had was great,” Lewis said. “I think he’s going to bring that here to Philly.”

Over time, Redick developed into one of the best long-range threats in the league. He holds a 41.5 percent career three-point shooting percentage, sixth among all active players. The Sixers have been in need of go-to scorers, especially from beyond the arc. 

“He’s going to help this team,” Lewis said. “He’s going to open it up because he’s a shooter.”

The Sixers are entering an important phase this coming season. They finally have a foundation in place and a core to build upon for years down the road, not just the time being. The younger players will benefit from listening to Redick during practices, games, team flights, and all the other scenarios in which they can soak up his experiences. That could include the playoffs, too, in the suddenly wide-open Eastern Conference. 

“The way he played the game, he’s not only a good shooter but he’s a smart player,” Lewis said. “He has a high basketball IQ. That’s why he’s still playing in the league. A lot of teams have a lot of respect for him.”

Sixers draft pick Jonah Bolden signs 3-year deal with Maccabi Tel Aviv

Sixers draft pick Jonah Bolden signs 3-year deal with Maccabi Tel Aviv

Sixers draft pick Jonah Bolden is officially headed back overseas.

Bolden, the 36th overall selection in last month’s draft, signed a three-year contract to play in Israel with Maccabi Tel Aviv, the team announced. The deal does contain opt-out clauses for the NBA.

“Jonah is a very talented young player with great potential, an athletic forward who knows how to shoot the ball and a great guy who likes to work hard,” Maccabi Tel Aviv head coach Neven Spahija said, per the EuroLeague's official website. “We believe he will develop into a great player.”

Bolden had hoped to join the Sixers for next season after spending summer league with the squad. The 6-10, 227-pound forward averaged 8.7 points on 36.8 percent shooting from the field and 31.4 percent from three-point range between the Utah and Las Vegas Summer Leagues. He also put up 6.2 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks in 23.4 minutes a game.

Bolden entered the draft after putting up 12.1 points (59.7 percent from the field, 38.1 percent from three-point range), 6.7 rebounds and 1.7 steals a game for KK FMP Beograd of Serbia last season. Those numbers earned him the Adriatic League’s Top Prospect award, previously won by Dario Saric and Nikola Jokic.

Bolden won’t be the only player on Maccabi Tel Aviv’s roster with Sixers/Philly ties. Former 2013 Sixers second-round pick Pierre Jackson and Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, native Jake Cohen are both members of the team.