Joel Embiid is “out indefinitely,” according the Philadelphia 76ers.
The left knee injury, which both Embiid and the Sixers describe as a “bone bruise,” first occurred on Jan. 20. The Sixers took their rookie center out of the rotation for three games, then played him for one more game on Jan. 27, and he’s been out ever since. On Feb. 11, Sixers GM Bryan Colangelo was forced to confirm that Embiid also had suffered a meniscus tear, but maintained that it was the bone bruise, and not the tear, keeping him off the floor.
Throughout his basketball career, Embiid has been injured more often than not. At the tail end of his freshman year in Kansas, he was sidelined with a stress fracture in his back. In the three years between being drafted third overall and playing his first NBA game this season, Embiid underwent two right foot surgeries.
Though Embiid was handled like fragile goods this year—the Sixers kept him a tight minutes restriction and barred from playing back-to-backs—he showed historic promise in his 31 games, averaging 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.5 blocks. With his dominance on both ends of the floor, the Sixers occasionally resembled a normal basketball operation. In January, he granted them their first three-game win streak since Nov. 2013.
Will he return, log a few more games, and rightfully claim Rookie of the Year? Will he take the rest of the season off to recover, like fellow big man Ben Simmons, who just had a “minor foot procedure to stimulate bone growth”? Who knows. The Sixers have been cagey in any discussions of his injury.