October 31, 2019
Sixers center Joel Embiid has been suspended for two games for his role in a fight with Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, the NBA announced on Thursday evening. Towns also received a two-game suspension.
The Sixers will be without Embiid for their next two games, on the road Saturday in Portland and Monday in Phoenix. While there are penalties in the NBA that can be appealed, a league official confirmed to PhillyVoice that it's, "not permissible under the CBA to appeal rulings of this nature."
Ben Simmons, who ran to Embiid's defense after the fight began and held Towns in a headlock to keep the fight from escalating further, has avoided punishment for his role in the ordeal. A pool report from Wednesday's game labeled him a "peacemaker" in the situation, and despite protests from Minnesota's end of things, that initial label prevailed in the end.
It's a situation the Sixers obviously would have liked to avoid, and based on their public comments, a situation they earnestly thought they could avoid in the immediate aftermath of Wednesday's game.
"I didn't throw any punches, all I did was, you know, try to be as cool as I could in that situation," Embiid said after Wednesday's game. "Personally, I didn't throw any punches so I shouldn't get suspended. But they have a history of just overruling anything that comes to me in a certain way, so hopefully, they overrule in the right way, but I don't expect it."
"I'm not worried. As I see it, I don't see punches being thrown, I don't believe he was the instigator, and so I have not gone back to review the tape either, so it's just first glance," head coach Brett Brown added. "My most immediate memory, that's how I remember it."
Unfortunately, the postgame back-and-forth between Embiid and Towns did not help matters for either participant, as it served as a continuation of an in-game incident and got uglier and uglier as the night went on, forcing the league to take a harsher stance than perhaps they otherwise would have. The league's official statement said the suspension was a product of "their roles in an on-court altercation and for their continued escalation following the incident."
The saving grace for Embiid is that the Sixers have never been better prepared than they are this season to deal with his absence. They've already picked up a win on the road without him, a 117-111 victory in Detroit last Saturday night, but the competition is much stiffer on their upcoming West Coast road trip, so expect things to be a little tougher for them without Embiid this time around.
In a weird way, there is a hidden benefit of an Embiid suspension for the Sixers. In accordance with the NBA's collective bargaining agreement, the Sixers will gain room against the luxury tax as a result of the suspension, or more specifically, 50 percent of his per-game salary figure for each game missed. That shakes out to a little under $95,000 a game, or around $190,000 total, so it's not a significant number, but it gives the Sixers a little bit of extra wiggle room should they need to make a trade later on.
(It does not, however, impact their actual cap space. The Sixers' ability to sign players will not be impacted here.)
When asked if the team would be offering a statement or any additional thoughts on the matter, a Sixers official told PhillyVoice the team was aware of the suspension handed down and are moving forward accordingly. And so ends an exciting late October chapter of Sixers basketball.
Follow Kyle on Twitter: @KyleNeubeck
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports