Joel Embiid has no intention of waiting for the regular season to play in a game. He wants to play preseason basketball. Period.
Alas, he is at the mercy of an overly cautious Sixers medical staff.
"I trust them, but at the same time, I have a voice, too," Embiid said Thursday. "I think they value my opinion. It's about us being on the same page."
Right now, the page looks like this: Embiid was cleared for full-court, 5-on-5 action Thursday but will be held out of the Sixers' second preseason game against the Celtics at the Wells Fargo Center on Friday. Coach Brett Brown said he wants to work slowly with Embiid so that he is ready to go for opening night Oct. 18 in Washington, but he isn't ready to pinpoint an exact date.
But is Embiid OK with waiting until opening night?
"No," he said. "I would like to play preseason because last year it helped me get in a groove … and to get back to the dominant player that I want to be."
Embiid acknowledged that he felt rusty Thursday after his first full practice since surgery on March 24 to repair a meniscus tear in his left knee. But from the portion of a practice scrimmage in Camden available to the media, he looked great.
On one play, the center blocked a J.J. Redick shot in the lane. Moments later, Embiid buried a three-pointer. Embiid moved well and didn't have any limitations.
Embiid played in only 31 games last season before the team announced on March 1 that he would need season-ending knee surgery. His last game was Jan. 27.
All that came after Embiid had missed the previous two seasons because of two surgeries to repair the navicular bone in his right foot. And don't forget the stress fracture that kept him out of the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments during his lone season at Kansas in 2014.
Brown has been configuring practices around the limitations of Embiid. When the center was able to play 5-on-5 only in half-court, most of the practices were structured in a half-court setting. So now that Embiid is able to go full-bore, the whole dynamic has changed for the team.
Not only do the logistics of offense and defense change during practice when Embiid is on the floor, but the energy of the gym is different. Embiid is integral to the team's goals, and the Sixers' success largely hinges on his health and ability to play.
"Today, having Jo, with no half-court restrictions where we could actually play basketball, was excellent. It was great for him; it was great for the group," Brown said.
Markelle Fultz was limited in practice with right shoulder soreness. He is probable for Friday's game against Boston.
Robert Covington was limited in practice because of right knee soreness, and Amir Johnson was limited with a sprained right ankle. Both are probable for Friday's game.