Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

Fish ‘n Chips

Posted by Eric Fisher On July 13

The left ankle injury sustained by Markelle Fultz during the 76ers’ first game in the Las Vegas Summer League serves as a reminder that the Sixers’ future is built upon a fragile foundation.

Fultz, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft, appears to be all right. He is expected to resume basketball activities within one or two weeks. Only an alarmist would point out that Fultz missed six of the final eight games of Washington’s season with a knee injury.

Until proven otherwise, though, Fultz isn’t the fragile piece of the foundation. The most fragile piece is center Joel Embiid, who sat out his first two NBA seasons with injuries before playing 31 games last season. Embiid is the most important piece of the Sixers’ future plans. A recurrence of the foot injury that sidelined him for two seasons or the knee injury that sidelined him for the latter stages of last season would likely delay the Sixers’ timetable for being a contending team.

The other foundation piece who can be labeled as fragile is Ben Simmons. The first overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Simmons missed all of last season after breaking a bone in his foot at the end of training camp. A foot injury for a large man, a category Embiid also fits into, is always a concern. Until Simmons plays some NBA games, his health will be a question mark.

Two of the Sixers’ most important pieces in their future plans have health concerns. It’s premature to place Fultz in that category, but one more injury this year would move him closer to that designation.

The Sixers have enough supporting players that, even if Simmons or Embiid misses significant time due to an injury, they shouldn’t be a bad team. At least not by the standards of the past few years.

This is no longer a team with a D-league roster. The signing of guard J.J. Redick and forward Amir Johnson, along with the continued development of Dario Saric and Robert Covington, make the Sixers a legitimate team.

But their development into a contending team would be seriously affected if their young foundation players remain plagued by injuries.

The Sixers’ future may appear bright, but that bright future is built upon a fragile foundation.


BOYS OF SUMMER: The results of summer league games aren’t important, so there’s no need to fret about the Sixers winning just once in the Utah Jazz Summer League and once, so far, in the Las Vegas Summer League. Sixers fans should feel good about the apparent improvement of Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and the performance of Turkish shooting guard Furkan Korkmaz. The competition during the summer leagues isn’t close to what these guys will face during the NBA regular season, but their performances certainly suggest that both Korkmaz and Luwawu-Cabarrot may be able to make significant contributions in the future.


(SOCIAL) MEDIA ISSUES: He’s not quite President Trump, but someone in the Sixers organization needs to tell Joel Embiid to curtail his social media activity. I know this isn’t a popular idea. Fans and media members love Embiid’s entertaining tweets and posts, but he’s gotten himself into a little hot water twice in recent weeks.

First, the NBA fined Embiid $10,000 after an Instagram live video he posted included a profanity-laced remark directed at LaVar Ball, the father of No. 2 overall draft pick Lonzo Ball. Although not as serious an infraction, Embiid took umbrage with an ESPN graphic about the number of games played by top draft picks of the Sixers. Embiid appeared to misunderstand that the graphic showed the number of games that they played during their rookie seasons, although Embiid’s 31 games in three seasons doesn’t exactly negate the point highlighted by the graphic.

I’m glad Embiid is having fun and that so many people enjoy his engaging personality. But he needs to dial back the social media activity before he gets himself in more trouble.


FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT: The Flyers’ recent development camp highlights the number of prospects the organization has. The depth at goalie is obvious, with prospects Carter Hart and Felix Sandstrom at the top of the list. The Flyers seem more excited about this duo being part of their future than about goalies a few years older, such as Anthony Stolarz.

The defenseman pipeline continues to churn out players, with Travis Sanheim and Philippe Myers seemingly ready to join Samuel Morin and Robert Hagg as contenders for roster spots with the Flyers this season. And, although they’re young, the Flyers might finally have some legitimate future NHL starters on the wings. We could see former fifth-round pick Oskar Linblom in orange and black as soon as this fall.


CAMP COUNTDOWN: Speaking of camps, the media-driven monstrosity known as Eagles training camp kicks off on July 23.


TOURNAMENT FOR THE AGES: A couple of older stars are making at impact at Wimbledon. Venus Williams, a five-time Wimbledon champion, will be making her first appearance in a Wimbledon final since 2009 when she battles Garbine Muguruza for the crown on Saturday (9 a.m.). Williams, 37, hasn’t won a grand slam title since 2008, when she won her fifth Wimbledon title.

In the men’s draw, the only remaining member of the Big Four still standing after the quarterfinals is 35-year-old Roger Federer. Rafael Nadal lost in the fourth round, Andy Murray lost in the quarterfinals and Novak Djokovic withdrew from his quarterfinal match with an elbow injury. All of a sudden, Federer, who ended a major championship drought by winning the Australian Open earlier this year, is in contention for his 19th major tournament title. The 3rd-seeded Federer, who breezed past 6th-seeded Milos Raonic in the quarterfinals, 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (4), will face 11th-seeded Tomas Berdych in Friday’s semifinal.


MADE IN AMERICA: The most surprising name in still alive in the men’s draw at Wimbledon is American Sam Querrey. The 24th-seeded Querrey upset top-seeded Andy Murray, 3-6, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-1, 6-1, to reach the semifinals, where he will face 7th-seeded Marin Cilic, a 3-6, 7-6 (6), 7-5, 5-7, 6-1 winner over Gilles Muller in the quarterfinals. Querrey’s last three wins have come in five sets, so, even with a day off between matches, his stamina will be tested against Cilic.


LET FREEDOMS RING: The Philadelphia Freedoms kick off their World Team Tennis season Sunday (5 p.m.) on the road against the New York Empire. The Freedoms’ home opener will be Monday (7 p.m.) against the Empire. All home matches this season will be Hagan Arena on the Saint Joseph’s campus.

Two big names are scheduled to play in Hagan Arena on back-to-back days, with Venus Williams joining the Washington Kastles to face the Freedoms on Mon., July 24, and Andy Roddick joining the Freedoms the next night to battle the Empire.


TOCCHET GETS HIS CHANCE: It’s good to see Rick Tocchet, who started and finished his playing career with the Flyers, get another opportunity to be a head coach. Tocchet, who coached the Lightning in 2008-09 and 2009-10, has spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach with the Penguins, who won the Stanley Cup the past two seasons.

The Penguins replaced Tocchet with Mark Recchi, another forward who played for both the Flyers and Penguins.


NASCAR RETURNS TO POCONO: NASCAR returns to Pocono Raceway on July 30 for the Overton’s 400. Ryan Blaney won the season’s first race at Pocono in May.


NO ANSWERS: Congratulations to the Union’s Derrick Jones and Aaron Trusty for being selected to participate in the MLS Homegrown Game, which features young American players, on Aug. 1 as part of the festivities leading up to the MLS All-Star Game.

Eric Fisher, who has been covering sports for nearly 29 years, would have a difficult time choosing whom to root for if Roger Federer and Sam Querrey meet in the Wimbledon final.

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