Joel Embiid and Amir Johnson could face discipline from the NBA after a camera shot caught the pair looking at a phone during their loss to the Nets in Game 1 of their playoff series. According to the NBA rule book, anyone who actively uses a phone on the bench while a game is in progress could face either a suspension or a fine.
This situation could get complicated quickly. Johnson was the one using the phone, and from the brief shot it seemed that he was showing Embiid something on there. But Embiid was definitely complicit, so how will the NBA dish out punishment? It seems hard to justify suspending Embiid if he wasn’t holding the phone.
A fine seems more likely for the pair of big men. The rules were initially implemented to prevent players from engaging on social media during games, and it didn’t seem like that’s what Johnson and Embiid were doing, if only because they were looking at the phone for a very brief period of time.
The NBA wouldn’t come off well if they did suspend Embiid, one of the league’s premier stars, for what appears to be a very minor offense. The optics on the situation aren’t great for Embiid, but in regards to the league, it doesn’t justify a suspension. Fines will likely be incoming, but the rule is something to keep in mind moving forward.