It’s almost time for season ticket memberships to be renewed for the 2017-18 76ers season. That’s not a secret.
It’s almost time for the Sixers to make a decision on Joel Embiid’s knee. That’s been a very secretive process.
The 23-year-old Embiid, clearly the franchise cornerstone in every way imaginable, has been out following a scintillating performance against the Houston Rockets on ESPN on Jan. 27. He has since been ruled out for the season with what has been described as a bone bruise and partially torn meniscus.
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In fact, Embiid was with his teammates on the recently completed four-game trip to the West Coast. He reportedly saw a group of doctors to determine what the next steps on the road to recovery should be.
The 76ers returned to practice Thursday, yet Embiid stayed on the West Coast. Embiid reportedly remained with Dr. David Martin in the San Diego area to visit more specialists regarding options for his knee. There was a convention of orthopedic surgeons last week in San Diego.
After two lost seasons with a pair of foot surgeries, Embiid made a major splash in 31 games this season. The fans became entranced at his every move and it was the beginning of a perfect marriage.
Until the latest injury occurred.
On Feb. 11, Sixers President Bryan Colangelo said the meniscus tear was “very minor.” But Embiid was unable to recover and was soon shut down for the remainder of the season.
No further information has been disseminated.
If the surgery is deemed minor, Embiid could be ready for basketball-related activities in six to eight weeks. If trouble is found, the recovery process could be much longer. No one knows right now.
“I’m not concerned at all,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “It’s part of it all. We’re doing our complete homework.”
The longer this goes without a definitive timetable, the more concerned the fan base will become. Embiid is the most crucial piece in this whole rebuilding situation which began with Brown nearly four years ago. Another setback could set the progress back even further.
Already with two full seasons on the sideline, Sixers fans received a boost with 31 games from Embiid. In that short span, and playing on minute restrictions, an All-Star-caliber player emerged.
The ultimate goal in the NBA is to win a championship, something the Sixers haven’t accomplished since Moses Malone, Julius Erving, Maurice Cheeks, etc., led a parade down Broad Street in 1983.
Embiid is a superstar on social media and with the fans. He’s got all the tools. But he needs to be healthy. He needs to be on the court. He needs to play in back-to-back games. He must be durable and show that he can be a 65-to-70 game player at least.
A potential surgical procedure isn’t on the schedule now, though one has to be likely.
The Sixers must come up with a solution. And soon. Their future depends on it.