Joel Embiid Reportedly Not Cleared for 5-on-5; 76ers Will Take Cautious Approach

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistSeptember 20, 2017

FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2017, file photo, Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid reacts during an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets in Philadelphia. Embiid's numbers are the best in the rookie class. Yet his rookie of the year chances seem very flawed for this reason: Embiid will miss nearly two-thirds of Philadelphia's season because of injuries. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

The NBA's regular season doesn't start until Oct. 17, but the Philadelphia 76ers are reportedly already concerned about big man Joel Embiid's health.

On Wednesday, the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com) reported Embiid hasn't been cleared to participate in five-on-five drills. The AP noted "the team will take a cautious approach" as he looks to return from March surgery to repair a torn meniscus.

Injuries have been a consistent concern for the center since the 76ers selected him with the No. 3 overall pick in 2014. He missed his first two seasons in the league with foot injuries and played a mere 31 games last season before the knee injury cost him the remainder of his campaign.

According to the AP, 76ers president Bryan Colangelo said Embiid must meet unspecified criteria before he can be cleared to play in five-on-five drills.

Additional injury issues for Embiid would be a difficult blow for the 76ers, considering they haven't made the playoffs since the 2011-12 season and have spent the past few years accumulating talent in a rebuild.

Embiid is seen as one of the team's central figures, and he flashed his dominance in his limited game action last season with 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. If he can stay healthy, the team can build around his formidable two-way presence down low for the foreseeable future.

The 76ers open their season October 18 against the Washington Wizards.

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