Questions Loom Large for Sixers at All-Star Break
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:
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.