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Questions Loom Large for Sixers at All-Star Break

Miami Heat v Philadelphia 76ers
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

While one might think that an improved on-court performance for the Philadelphia 76ers would lead to more off-court clarity, it seems that the opposite has actually occurred.

The Sixers enter the NBA’s All-Star Break with 21 wins – more than twice the amount that the team totaled during the entire 2015-16 season. However, as their win total has increased, so has the amount of questions looming regarding the franchise’s future.

Here’s a look at a few of the most pressing:

  1. When will the team trade Jahlil Okafor?

At one point it looked like Jahlil Okafor had played his last game in a Sixers uniform as he was held out of consecutive contests due to ongoing trade talks. No deal actually materialized however, and Okafor remains on the roster – an awkward situation made bearable only because of Okafor’s maturity and Brett Brown’s leadership.

Okafor’s days with the Sixers certainly seem numbered, making it simply a matter of where and when

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  1. When will Joel Embiid play again?

Joel Embiid has missed 11 straight – and 14 out of 15 – of his last games with a ‘slightly’ torn meniscus, and an exact return date has not been revealed.

Though a completely different injury, this latest setback is a bit of a concern for a franchise player that missed two consecutive seasons with injury issues. Eventually the Sixers will need a consistently healthy Embiid to succeed. For the rest of the 2016-‘17 season though, just having him out on the court will be enough to alleviate some of Philadelphia fans’ fear and frustration.

  1. Is Ben Simmons going to play this season?

Serious injury issues have just become par for the course for new Sixers acquisitions. I wrote about what I called the Sixers Redshirt Program back in 2014, and Simmons may be the newest addition to the program.

The Sixers released a statement on Simmons’ recovery on Thursday that basically amounted to revealing that there is still no timetable for his return despite the fact that – barring setback – he should probably have been good to go by now. It seems increasingly likely that Simmons will miss the entirety of what would be his rookie campaign – just as it was rumored his agent wanted prior to the season’s start.

It wouldn’t be the end of the world if Simmons didn’t play this season, but a definitive statement from the organization one way or another wouldn’t be bad either.

  1. What is the team going to do with Nerlens Noel?

One major looming question facing the Sixers that has taken somewhat of a backseat with the recent surge in Okafor-related rumors is what they plan to do with soon-to-be restricted free agent Nerlens Noel.

If the organization is unsure about re-signing Noel for major money this offseason, then a trade remains a possibility, or else the Sixers would run the risk of losing Noel for nothing this offseason.

The answers to these questions will go a long way in shaping the remainder of the current season – and beyond.

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