Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have both been ruled out for Sunday night’s All-Star Game. The Philadelphia 76ers superstar duo was in close contact with an individual who turned back a positive test for COVID-19.
The team released a statement saying Embiid and Simmons found out prior to traveling to Atlanta. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the person who tested positive was a Philadelphia-area barber. No one indicated where the barbershop was located but Embiid and Simmons are known to patronize Main Attraction Unisex Salon in West Philly.
UPDATE: Embiid and Simmons both tested negative for COVID-19, per Marc Stein, and traveled back home to Philly from Atlanta on separate private planes. Zion Williamson replaced Embiid as the starting center for Team Durant.
Doc Rivers and the rest of the Sixers coaching staff made the trip to Atlanta and participate in the All-Star Game. No one else was exposed to the individual in question, per a statement. Here is what the Sixers released:
Prior to traveling to Atlanta, Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons had contact with an individual who is confirmed today to have tested positive for the coronavirus. As a result, Embiid (Team Durant) and Simmons (Team LeBron) will not play in tonight’s NBA All-Star Game.
Participation for other All-Stars and members of the 76ers coaching staff in Atlanta is not affected because they were not exposed to the individual in Philadelphia.
Scout: No One Can Defend Embiid
Taking the novel coronavirus out of the equation, there is a growing sense that Embiid will win his first MVP award this year. He’s simply unguardable due to his size, strength, silky smooth shot — inside the paint and beyond the arc. The Athletic recently polled 30 NBA sources and asked them to rank the purest scorers in the NBA. Embiid finished seventh overall on the list, but one scout couldn’t stop drooling.
That dude can score at will at this point of his career,” said a scout who ranked Embiid fourth, via Bleacher Report. “I’m not sure who can defend him.”
The All-Star center ranks second in points per game (30.2) this season, with Bradley Beal (32.9) leading the league. Kevin Durant won the overall voting in The Athletic’s survey and James Harden finished second.
No Replacements Named for Embiid, Simmons
The league has decided not to replace Simmons (Team LeBron) and Embiid (Team Durant) on the All-Star roster. The NBA just doesn’t have enough time to find two new players and get them cleared through COVID-19 protocols in time for tip-off at 8 p.m. Mike Conley (Utah Jazz) was added as a last-minute replacement on Friday after Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns) was ruled out due to injury.
“The last thing we need is an outbreak to start the second half. It looks like we may already be having one as a team,” Rivers told reporters on Sunday. “We’re still waiting for the NBA to tell us what the next steps are.”
It remains uncertain how long Embiid and Simmons will be sidelined. The NBA has a strict policy on contact tracing and requires players to wear sensor devices that activate when a person comes within six feet of another person. Luckily, the Sixers have another four days off to sort it out.