Elton Brand expects Joel Embiid to be ready when the 76ers begin the playoffs this weekend. But the Sixers general manager couldn’t say for sure that the All-Star center would be on the court.

“I am optimistic that he will be ready this weekend and will do everything to get back, but of course he is the major key,” Brand said during a news conference before the Sixers’ final regular-season game, against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Sixers will begin the playoffs Saturday against Brooklyn.

Even though Embiid played a career-high 64 games this season, he has missed five of the last seven and 14 of the final 24.

Embiid and the rest of the starters didn’t play Wednesday, with the game having no bearing on the Sixers’ playoff standing. They were locked in as the No. 3 seed.

Brand was asked if Embiid possibly wouldn’t play this weekend.

“It is possible,” he said.

Embiid was listed as out Wednesday with load management, left knee soreness.

Brand was cautious while talking about Embiid.

“I am optimistic he plays this weekend, but it is a combination of how he feels,” Brand said. “I think he will present well and be ready; you don’t know.”

Embiid averaged 27.5 points and 13.6 rebounds, and the Sixers need him in order to have an extended postseason run.

It was suggested to Brand that Embiid looks to have gained 10-15 pounds lately, and the general manger was asked if that had an impact on his knee.

“I don’t think it is a weight issue,” Brand said. “He is focused on his diet, his cardio, his conditioning, and I am optimistic that he is back, and if he is back he will be fine.”

Brand weighs in on Magic Johnson resignation

Magic Johnson stunned the NBA when he announced Tuesday he had resigned as the Los Angeles Lakers’ president of basketball operations.

One of the reasons Johnson gave was that he wanted to mentor players such as Sixers point guard Ben Simmons and other young athletes.

In January, the NBA investigated when Johnson mentioned that Simmons had reached out to him to see if the two could work together on his game. The NBA eventually ruled that the statements did not constitute a tampering violation.

Here is what the NBA said at the time

"The Philadelphia 76ers initiated the contact with the Los Angeles Lakers by requesting a meeting between Johnson and Simmons. Both organizations ultimately concluded that such a meeting did not make sense at this time, but in that context, Johnson’s response to a media inquiry regarding Simmons does not run afoul of league rules.”

Brand said he reached out to Johnson after hearing the news.

“It a little tough because I look up to him absolutely for his game and what he has done for the game of basketball, what he has done in business, what he has done in the community,” Brand said. “The rules are the rules and he is a wealth of knowledge, so anytime you can get a young player with a Magic Johnson or a young business person or a young person in the community to be around a person like that, they should be able to, for sure.”