Philadelphia 76ers general manager Daryl Morey has an uneven response when asked about Joel Embiid's possible return this season.
When it was announced that the Philadelphia 76ers had acquired Buddy Hield from the Indiana Pacers at the NBA Trade Deadline, many assumed it was a sign that the team expected Joel Embiid back before the end of the season. However, after 76ers general manager Daryl Morey was prompted on the subject, that's not exactly the feeling I got when reading back his comments.
Sure, Morey kept using the word hopeful but also kept saying it was not "100 percent." Understandably, part of that was protecting Embiid. At the same time, part of that also had to be the mere fact that the Sixers simply don't know yet. You can read his full response to the question here, but here's the part of the response that left me with more questions than answers regarding the immediate future of the Sixers:
"“We’re very hopefully. Obviously for sure, it’s not 100 percent. It’s something that is probably unfortunately a good chunk short of 100 percent. But we thought it was the right thing.""- Philadelphia 76ers GM Daryl Morey
This quote leads me to believe that there is real doubt that Embiid will be back this season. And the Sixers simply made the bold trade deadline move in the event that Embiid is back, not with true anticipation that he will be.
What if Joel Embiid doesn't come back?
I imagine that Morey believes what they gave up for Hield (Marcus Morris, Furkan Korkmaz, and three second-round picks) was worth it whether Embiid comes back or not. However, in the event that Embiid does come back, the move for Hield could end up making quite a difference.
But, again, it's too early to tell if Embiid will be back or not. At this point, if I were the Sixers, I'd be operating as if he isn't. And I'd have to imagine that's what is taking place behind the scenes. The last thing Philadelphia needs to do is apply unnecessary pressure on Embiid to rush in his recovery.
Either way, no matter how this season ends, the Sixers could be plotting to make their big move during the offseason. And letting Embiid recover slowly may end up working out for the better in the long run.
From all indications, no one seems to know if Embiid will be back this season. Not even the Sixers.