By Shams Charania, Mike Vorkunov and Hunter Patterson
Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid will have a corrective procedure this week to repair an injury to the lateral meniscus in his left knee, the team announced Sunday. Embiid’s surgery will address a displaced flap of the meniscus, and he will be sidelined for an extended period of time, league sources confirmed to The Athletic.
A displaced flap is considered to be a type of tear of the meniscus, according to orthopedic knee specialists. Embiid had been mulling over surgery as an option following a diagnoses of a displaced flap in his left knee, The Athletic reported Saturday.
The reigning league MVP injured his knee in the fourth quarter of the 76ers’ loss to the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday, when Jonathan Kuminga fell on his left leg. Embiid is the league’s leading scorer, averaging 35.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.8 blocks per game. From Nov. 17 to Jan. 25, Embiid scored 30 points or more in 22 consecutive games, the fifth-longest stretch in league history.
Significance of Embiid’s absence
This is obviously a big blow to Philadelphia and for Embiid. This injury, now that it’s been diagnosed and surgery has been prescribed, ruins what has been a historic season for the two-time scoring champ. Embiid’s numbers have been tremendous, and he has been truly dominant. He may well have won a second consecutive MVP if he stayed healthy.
He’ll likely miss his 18th game of the season at some point during his upcoming absence and he’ll be ineligible for the MVP, other awards and the All-NBA team. Embiid has dealt with so many injury issues over the course of his career that it is difficult not to feel some sympathy for him as he sees another one cut this season down, even if he is able to make a comeback at some point.
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This is a big blow for the 76ers as well. They had developed into one of the East’s best teams before Embiid got hurt, even after the whole James Harden affair to begin the season. Now, it all becomes hazy. They own the fifth-best record in the East and have been sliding.
They’re 26-8 when Embiid plays and 4-10 when he doesn’t. Philadelphia is four games up on the Orlando Magic and Indiana Pacers, who are tied for the sixth-best record in the East and the last seed to avoid the Play-In Tournament, and it will fall on Tyrese Maxey and coach Nick Nurse to keep them above that cutoff line.
Team president Daryl Morey now has a few days ahead of the trade deadline to figure out how to act. They have cap space coming in the summer — can they leverage the contracts that would get them there to somehow improve the team for the rest of this season? They gained extra draft assets in the Harden deal — would they use those to aid the current roster for if-and-when Embiid returns?
There are a lot of questions now that weren’t there for the 76ers a week ago. — Mike Vorkunov, national basketball business reporter
(Photo: Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images)