The NBA is investigating Joel Embiid’s last-minute scratch on Saturday against the Denver Nuggets, sources told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.
Embiid was not listed on any of Philadelphia’s injury reports until the 5:30 p.m. edition – also the game’s start time – when he was suddenly ruled out with knee soreness.
The 29-year-old appeared to have discomfort in his knee during Philadelphia’s previous contest against the Indiana Pacers on Thursday, but he still played 31 minutes in the loss while scoring 31 points with seven rebounds.
During the buildup to Saturday’s game, the NBA made multiple social media posts promoting the matchup between Embiid and Nikola Jokic, the league’s two most recent MVPs.
Medical staff on the 76ers were reportedly concerned with something they saw during Embiid’s pregame warmup, prompting the club to scratch him for the encounter. The NBA has strict guidelines for reporting player injuries and has fined multiple teams $25,000 for failing to comply with those protocols. If an independent physician determines Embiid could have played, the 76ers could face a $100,000 fine for violating the player participation policy, which was introduced for this season and meant to dissuade teams from resting stars in prime-time games.
Embiid, who is out again Monday against the Portland Trail Blazers, has not played in Denver since November 2019. In order to remain eligible for end-of-season awards, including a second consecutive MVP trophy, he must play in at least 65 games this season. He can only miss another five games following Monday’s absence against Portland in order to maintain his eligibility.