It turns out that Joel Embiid's injury is more serious than folks believed.
A report by DerekBodner.com forced the 76ers to reveal 15 minutes before Saturday night's game against the Miami Heat that their center had a slight meniscus tear in his left knee. An MRI following the game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Jan. 20, revealed the issue. At that time, the team had said only that Embiid left the game because of a bone bruise in the knee.
It also appears that another Sixers center, Jahlil Okafor, is closer to getting traded. He did not play in the Sixers' 117-109 victory over the Heat at the Wells Fargo Center.
Okafor was the subject on trade discussions with the New Orleans Pelicans, Chicago Bulls and reportedly the Portland Trail Blazers, among others. While things could start up again, the Sixers' conversations with the Denver Nuggets have stalled.
Coach Brett Brown confirmed that there have been trade talks with team.
A league source said that nothing was imminent, but that talks were progressing. There's a chance that Okafor will sit out the remaining two games - at Charlotte on Monday and at Boston on Wednesday - prior to the all-star break if need be. The trade deadline is 3 p.m. Feb. 23.
But on this night, Embiid's meniscus was the main topic of discussion.
"It was not thought to be the source of the pain, inflammation, or symptoms," Sixers president Bryan Colangelo said.
Colangelo added that it is not thought to be an acute injury.
"He's being treated for a bone bruise," he said. "Once he's asymptomatic, he'll be back on the court."
Embiid has missed nine straight games and 12 of the last 13 since he was injured against Portland.
The bone bruise is the bigger problem, and what the team is treating. Colangelo doesn't think there's any potential long-term effects with the meniscus tear. Nor does he think it's a severe injury.
It's unlikely that Embiid will play in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday at the NBA All-Star Weekend in New Orleans.
"It's more than likely we'll hold him back until the end of the all-star break, because that gives us the clearest path to where he can progress toward . . . full health and recovery," Colangelo said.
On Friday, the rookie of the year favorite participated in drills under Brown's supervision. He participated in Saturday's shootaround.
"I would say today is the best day I felt in the past two weeks," Embiid said.
Brown echoed that.
"He's moving well," the coach said. "His spirit was good. But in relation to what does that means in his return to play, I really don't know."
What Brown does know is that his team knocked off the NBA's hottest team Saturday night.
The Heat (24-31) went into the match with 13 straight victories, the NBA's longest winning streak this season.
The Sixers (20-34) led by as many as 12 points in the third quarter. Miami cut it to four points with 4 minutes, 44 seconds left. The Sixers responded with a 10-1 run to open up a 110-97 lead with 3:04 to play.
Robert Covington, Nerlens Noel, and Dario Saric led the Sixers with 19 points apiece. T.J. McConnell finished with 11 points and 10 assists to post his second career double-double.
Ersan Ilyasova (14 points), Gerald Henderson (14), and Nik Stauskas (11) were the Sixers' other double-digit scorers.
Noel said the Sixers showed they were relentless by knocking off the NBA's hottest team when the focus was on Embiid and Okafor.
"I think we got a group of guys that bought into the program," Noel said. "How we are playing right now, just moving the ball, I think guys really stepped up."
Okafor was dressed and out of the locker room by the team the media was let in.
"More information is always available," Brown said of the Okafor trade front. "You wake up and something happen. You learn sometimes things don't happen. So I feel like it's still fluid.
"But if you see me not play him, that's probably going to be the reason."
Miami's Dion Waiters, who's from South Philly, sat out the game with a sprained left ankle.