The NBA suspended 76ers center Joel Embiid and Minnesota center Karl-Anthony Towns two games each for their roles in a fight during the Sixers’ 117-95 win Wednesday over the Timberwolves.
The suspensions will begin Saturday for both players. The Sixers begin a four-game road trip Saturday in Portland, while Minnesota will visit Washington.
Embiid will also miss Monday’s game in Phoenix.
The NBA sent out a release that said the suspensions were due to “their roles in on-court altercation and for their continued escalation following the incident,”
Under the NBA’s CBA, there is no appeals process for suspensions of this nature for games. A player can appeal the lost salary.
ESPN insider Bobby Marks, a former vice president/assistant GM for the Brooklyn Nets, tweeted that the two-game suspension would cost Embiid $379,374 and Towns $376,345. Marks said each team would receive a 50 percent credit toward the luxury tax.
Al Horford will move from power forward to center in place of Embiid.
This situation happened in the second game of the season, when Embiid was sidelined with a right ankle sprain. The Sixers won at Detroit, 117-111.
Rookie Matisse Thybulle moved into the starting lineup for that game at small forward and Tobias Harris played power forward. It’s uncertain how coach Brett Brown will address the forward situation against Portland.
The incident between Embiid and Towns occurred with 6 minutes and 42 seconds left in the third quarter and the Sixers holding a 75-55 lead. Towns was being guarded by Ben Simmons when Embiid came down for a double team. The two centers collided, and Towns threw a punch that didn’t connect. Embiid and Towns tangled in a bear hug and tumbled to the floor as teammates moved in.
Embiid had said on Wednesday after the game that he didn’t think he would be suspended because he didn’t throw a punch. Towns threw one punch that failed to connect.
The Sixers didn’t release a statement after the suspension was announced, but a team spokesperson told The Inquirer, “The team was notified of the suspension this [Thursday] evening following the conclusion of the league’s investigation. We are moving forward understanding Joel Embiid will not be available for the next two games.”
Before the decision was announced, Embiid went on social media with a profane message to Towns. The Sixers declined to comment on Embiid’s tweet.
On Thursday, Sixers point guard Ben Simmons found himself in the middle of the controversy.
After the game Wednesday, NBA referee Mark Ayotte, through a pool reporter, was asked if Simmons was trying to break up the fight when he had Towns on the ground.
“Yes, we deemed him a peacemaker,” Ayotte responded.
An ESPN report Thursday said that the Timberwolves contended to the NBA that it was a "dangerous choke hold” by Simmons.
The Wolves would neither confirm nor deny the report when contacted by The
The NBA didn’t fine Simmons for his role and an official said after viewing the incident, that the league agreed with Ayotte’s assessment that Simmons served as a peacemaker.
As for Simmons, he scoffed at Minnesota’s contention.
“I don’t really have anything to say about it,” Simmons said after practice about Minnesota’s allegations, well before the suspension was announced “My teammate and Karl went at it and I tried to grab them and separate them and get Karl to relax a little bit because I know Karl. People who know me, know I am not [like that], that is how I play. It is what it is."