The 76ers’ Sunday night game against the New Orleans Pelicans was postponed after Sixers backup point guard Shake Milton and backup center Andre Drummond entered health and safety protocols earlier in the day, the NBA announced.
This development, combined with a growing injury list, put the Sixers at risk of not being able to suit up the mandatory eight players required to move forward with Sunday’s game.
The team also is scheduled to play Monday night in Boston, before getting two days off ahead of a Thursday’s scheduled home game against Atlanta.
Per the NBA’s most recent injury report, All-Star center Joel Embiid (ankle soreness), starting point guard Tyrese Maxey (quad contusion), and starting wing Danny Green (hip soreness) were all questionable to play against the Pelicans, while reserve Georges Niang was still in health and safety protocols and reserve guard Furkan Korkmaz remained out with a non-COVID illness. Additionally, reserve forward Paul Reed and two-way forward Aaron Henry were in Las Vegas for the G League Showcase, making it challenging to rejoin the Sixers quickly, while rookie guard Jaden Springer was in concussion protocol.
The Sixers held their normal pregame shootaround Sunday morning. Milton also spoke to reporters after participating in practice on Saturday afternoon.
The Sixers-Pelicans game was one of five postponed by the NBA Sunday afternoon, with several teams dealing with numerous players, coaches, and staff in protocols as cases surge across the country. Also pushed back were Sunday’s Cleveland-Atlanta and Brooklyn-Denver games, along with Monday’s Orlando-Toronto contest and Tuesday’s matchup between Washington and Brooklyn. Last week, two Chicago Bulls games were postponed for the same reason.
Milton and Drummond are the sixth and seventh Sixers to go into protocols at some point this season. Starting forward Tobias Harris tested positive on Nov. 1, before reserve guard Isaiah Joe and reserve wing Matisse Thybulle joined him in protocols shortly after that. Then, Embiid tested positive on Nov. 8 and missed nine games. Embiid and Harris both described having harsh symptoms, and Harris believes his have lingered weeks later.
Per the Sixers, tickets for Sunday’s game will be honored when it is rescheduled.
Milton and Drummond entering protocols comes less than three days after the Sixers played the Brooklyn Nets, who have been dealing with a significant outbreak. Kevin Durant, who totaled 34 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 assists in 39 minutes against the Sixers Thursday night, went into protocols Saturday.
Vaccinated players can return to their teams after two consecutive negative PCR tests or 10 days of isolation.
Milton is averaging 11.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 25.4 minutes in 25 games (six starts). Drummond is averaging six points, 9.3 rebounds, and 19.7 minutes in 29 games (11 starts).
Sixers waive Grant Riller, sign Myles Powell to two-way contract
The Sixers waived two-way guard Grant Riller and signed guard Myles Powell to a two-way contract, the team announced Sunday..
Riller, who played in seven games with Charlotte last season, has not appeared in a Sixers game this season, partially because of a knee injury that required surgery and a recent shoulder injury sustained while with the G League’s Delaware Blue Coats. He played in four games for Delaware, averaging 5.5 points and 2.3 assists in 11.3 minutes per game.
Powell, who went undrafted out of Seton Hall in 2020, played last season for the G League’s Westchester Knicks. He averaged 17.8 points, 3.8 assists, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game and connected on 44.6% of his three-pointers on 6.4 attempts per game.
The New York Knicks signed Powell to an Exhibit 10 contract in October and waived him two days later, allowing him to return to the G League as an affiliate player. He played one game with Westchester this season.
Powell, a Trenton native, was an All-American, the Big East Player of the Year, and the Jerry West Award winner as college basketball’s best shooting guard in 2019-20. In July, he filed a lawsuit against Seton Hall, coach Kevin Willard, and director of sports medicine Tony Testa that claims a knee injury was misdiagnosed, which caused him to suffer severe physical and financial damage, including not being drafted by any NBA teams following his stellar college career. Seton Hall filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in August.