NBA notebook: Celtics don’t expect Horford to return for season opener



While the Celtics expect Jaylen Brown to be back ahead of the regular season opener, it seems increasingly likely they won’t be full by then.

Al Horford reached the injury report Tuesday due to health and safety protocols; the team announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19. Given the 10-day quarantine rules, Boston coach Ime Udoka said on Wednesday it “would be very close” to whether Horford would be back by the Oct. 20 game against the Knicks.

“Al is fine,” Udoka said. “Obviously, nobody wants to be in this situation, so there’s nothing really positive about it. But in terms of overall health, he’s doing well.

Udoka said Horford tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, ahead of the team’s trip to Florida this week. Ten days after Monday translates to October 21, which means Horford is unlikely to prepare for the opener of the regular season. The Celtics have their home opener on October 22 against the Raptors.

It continues to be a brutal blow to the Celtics, who lost over 160 player days to the virus last season. Between the injuries and COVID-19, the team has had a series of bad luck due to the pandemic.

Udoka said there were a few small positives with the guys who had come out with the virus, but it wasn’t much. While the Celtics run out of players during the preseason, it still disrupts the build-up period where guys want to gel and build chemistry.

“I saw the number of games missed last year,” Udoka said. “We really hit it hard last year, so I knew that when I got there. Obviously that’s a frustrating thing. And given that I also dealt with it right before, I guess the silver lining is when this happens, if there is one, during the preseason.

76ERS: It’s well known: Ben Simmons is back in Philadelphia. But there are no clear signs at the moment the All-Star goalie is set to cancel his trade request and play for the 76ers.

Even coach Doc Rivers – at least publicly – says he’s unsure about the state of trade demand, the latest wrinkle in Simmons’ relationship with the Sixers.

“I don’t know. He expressed it, but we’ll see how it works,” Rivers said in team practice Wednesday.

A canceled request seems unlikely, although Rivers said Simmons “was awesome, he was good” when the two met on Tuesday, a day after the three-time All-Star surprised the franchise by showing up in his arena at the event. ‘a pre-season game to take. a COVID-19 test.

Rivers said Simmons was due to return to the training facility Wednesday night for individual training and will not train with the team until he clears NBA health and safety protocols.

That is, if Simmons comes back to play.

It’s still a big if for the Sixers, especially with another preseason game Friday in Detroit before next week’s opener in New Orleans. Much like Marshawn Lynch on a Super Bowl media day, Simmons may only be here to avoid getting a fine. The 25-year-old Aussie still has four years and $ 147 million on his max contract – although the 76ers have placed $ 8.25 million in receivership due to the keeper, and fines for missing matches and practices could be waived of this amount.

Rivers, who turned 60 on Wednesday, said he wanted Simmons to play.

“I guess he’s going to play, but who knows?” I can’t get into anyone’s head, ”Rivers said.

Rivers said he’s not ruling out Simmons traveling with the team to Detroit.

“Whether we play it or not will depend on what we see this week,” Rivers said. “He’s coming from behind, because he hasn’t been to camp, obviously. Having said that, do you rush him and put him on the ground? This is a whole different subject. What we are seeing this week is how we are determining everything for the future. “

Simmons has missed training camp and preseason so far following his offseason commercial request that has angered some teammates, raised fans’ ire and left many puzzled as to why he wants to quit the seed. No. 1 last season in the Eastern Conference.

Sixers president Daryl Morey and Rivers have been publicly optimistic since the start of training camp that Simmons would play for the Sixers again.

Simmons, the No.1 pick in the 2016 draft, had been linked with Joel Embiid as cornerstones of the franchise as the Sixers pursued their first NBA championship since 1983. He averaged 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists over four seasons with the Sixers, who drafted him from LSU, where he only played one season.


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