It’s been almost a full year since Joel Embiid had two screws inserted into his right foot, and the Sixers’ big man has suffered a setback in his recovery.
Here’s the team statement from Sam Hinkie (via ESPN):
“As part of the conservative approach focused on the long-term health, recovery and care of Joel, we have been closely monitoring his progress, regularly evaluating his status and adjusting our plans accordingly,” team president and general manager Sam Hinkie said in a statement. “Recently, Joel and Sixers personnel traveled to Los Angeles for a series of routine exams with a number of physicians who have been actively involved throughout this process.
“During his visit with Dr. Richard Ferkel, a standard CT scan on Joel’s right foot revealed less healing than anticipated at this point. Our priority remains providing Joel with every opportunity to ensure he has a long and successful NBA career, and as such, these findings cause us to pause and reassess his current activities.
“Together with Joel and his representatives, we will continue to consult with the experienced team of doctors who have been an integral part of his evaluations, while also engaging in dialogue with a broader set of experts and specialists. Discussions regarding the appropriate next steps are currently ongoing and we will share an update once it becomes available.”
This is potentially very very very bad, and it’s particularly troubling given the time it’s been since the surgery and the context of his other injuries. But like the boot sighting in March, this could also mean nothing. Setbacks happen, and not all of them result in Andrew Bynum scenarios. Pessimism is warranted, though it might be best to avoid playing doctor without an M.D. and access to the 7-footer’s medical records.
One thing that’s clear: Embiid’s health, for better or worse, will play a huge role in this team’s future. If healthy, he’s the type of talent that could turn around a franchise. D’Angelo Russell, Mario Hezonja, Kristaps Porzingis, 3-6-11, future picks, cap room — they’re important too, but trivial compared to the status of Embiid’s right foot. So here’s to a full and permanent recovery — and to this being a small stepback, rather than a major one.