Joel Embiid hasn't seen the court in quite some time. Exactly two weeks ago, the veteran center was prepared to take a rest night as the Philadelphia 76ers hosted the New York Knicks. However, Embiid's reason for absence went from a standard rest night to him being entered into the NBA's health and safety protocol.
At the time, the Sixers were dealing with a bit of a COVID-19 outbreak. As Tobias Harris tested positive for the virus after coming in close contact with a team staffer, several other players began testing positive within a week.
Isaiah Joe and Matisse Thybulle became the second and third players to test positive before Embiid became the fourth and the final. At this point, Harris, Joe, and Thybulle have all been cleared by the NBA to play. Embiid, on the other hand, is taking longer than expected.
Typically, players who test positive and are symptomatic are required to wait ten days before re-testing. Then, once the end of that timeline approaches, players are expected to return two negative COVID-19 tests before returning to action. So far, Embiid is halfway there, which is a step in the right direction.
"He passed one of the tests," said Sixers coach Doc Rivers on Monday, ahead of the matchup against the Sacramento Kings. "I think he has another big one today. Then after that, we have to decide what we want to do."
Embiid won't appear on the court for the Sixers when they face the Kings on Monday night as he's still not out of the health and safety protocol. However, the fact that he's able to return to work at the Sixers' practice facility in Camden, New Jersey, is a positive sign for the big man who has a lot of conditioning to do after missing the Sixers' last seven games.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.