Embiid, Simmons out of NBA All-Star Game for virus tracing
NEW YORK – Philadelphia 76ers stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons will not play in Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game after close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19.
The league announced Sunday morning that Cameroonian center Embiid and Australian guard Simmons learned of the situation before leaving for the All-Star showdown at Atlanta.
Embiid was selected fourth overall by Kevin Durant and was set to start for his squad in the contest of elite NBA talent while Simmons was picked fourth among reserves, 13th overall, by LeBron James for his roster.
No other All-Stars or members of the 76ers coaching staff in Atlanta were affected because they were not exposed to the coronavirus-positive individual in Philadelphia, the NBA said.
Sixers head coach Doc Rivers will still guide Durant’s All-Star squad.
Rivers has selected New Orleans forward Zion Williamson to replace Embiid as a starter for Durant’s team, the NBA announced.
Williamson has averaged 25.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists a game this season for the Pelicans, who share 11th in the Western Conference at 10-21.
Durant and James were named captains after being the top selections in fan voting from the Eastern and Western conferences, James claiming the most votes overall.
Durant will miss the game with an injury.
The 76ers have the best record in the Eastern Conference at 24-12.
Embiid ranks second in the NBA with 30.2 points a game and fifth in the league in rebounds with 11.6 a contest.
Simmons is averaging 16.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.6 assists a game.
It’s uncertain how long they might be sidelined. The 76ers are scheduled to resume NBA regular-season play on Thursday at Chicago.