SALT LAKE CITY - What changed? What happened?
At the start of the season, 76ers coach Brett Brown spoke of looking forward to Joel Embiid's traveling with the team, being in the team meetings and video sessions. Brown wanted his rehabilitating rookie center to always interact with his teammates and coaches.
It's an approach the Sixers benefited from last season with Nerlens Noel. They were determined to do the same with Embiid, who had a foot injury.
However, Brown announced before Saturday night's game against the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena that Embiid and shooting guard Hollis Thompson had been sent home.
Thompson had missed the previous three games with an upper-respiratory infection. He also appeared extremely weak on Friday.
But what's wrong with Embiid?
Other than noticeable weight gain, the 7-footer appears to be healthy.
"Joel has all the resources that he needs back in Philadelphia," Brown said. "It's more of a structured, stable environment where he has the machines that he can lift on, the people that he can see, team-doctor-wise. He's at an interesting stage of his recovery."
Brown said Embiid's recovery is moving in the right direction. He added that the team believes that flying Embiid around the country might not be the smartest thing to do on the five-game West Coast trip.
"So just bringing him back and settling him down and taking care of his body is in his interest," Brown said.
But Noel went on all the trips last season. Brown said the circumstances are different.
"Imagine when you are a big man like Joel Embiid, and you are trying to make sure his diet and his weight are where they need to be so we can help him," Brown said. ". . . And we feel like we can achieve that better in Philadelphia."
Meanwhile, Thompson was sent home for precautionary reasons. He hasn't recovered from his illness as quickly as expected.
Mbah a Moute out
Power forward Luc Mbah a Moute missed Saturday's game with a strained left calf. The Sixers will pay close attention to the injury and not rush him back. There is no timetable for his return.
The 6-foot-8, 230-pounder is averaging 9.3 points and 5.1 rebounds this season.
A Salt Lake City reporter asked Brown how he sees "Andrei" fitting into the team.
"Who's this?" Brown responded.
The reporter clarified that he was asking about Andrei Kirilenko, who was acquired in a trade with the Brooklyn Nets on Dec. 11. Kirilenko, who started his career in Utah, has yet to report to the Sixers.
"Only because I haven't seen him, that's a fair response that I gave you," Brown said, laughing.