Joel Embiid is going to be sidelined for four to six months following foot surgery on Friday morning, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The surgery comes one day after news spread that the former Kansas center broke the navicular bone in his right foot. Embiid's agent Arn Tellem spread details of the surgery to reporters on Friday afternoon.
Agent Arn Tellem says two screws were inserted into the navicular bone in Joel Embiid’s right foot in today's surgery.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) June 20, 2014
Tellem on Embiid: "The surgery went very well and I’m confident that after appropriate healing he will be able to return to NBA basketball."— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) June 20, 2014
The surgery comes just six days before the 2014 NBA Draft, and makes Embiid's status uncertain. Embiid was largely presumed to be the favorite for the No. 1 pick by the Cavaliers before the injury, but the consensus is that he's going to slip. There have been reports that the Boston Celtics would like to end a potential slide down the draft at No. 6, if he gets that far.
The optimistic end of the timetable given by Yahoo! could put Embiid back before the beginning of the season. If it takes him six months to recover, he could debut around Christmas. However, it wouldn't be a surprise if the team who drafts Embiid plans to be deliberate with his recovery. A 4-6 month timetable doesn't mean he'll actually play in the NBA next season. The severity of this injury, combined with the stress fracture Embiid suffered in his back in February at Kansas, is likely to make whatever team he goes to very cautious with his long-term health.
There's a precedent for lottery picks sitting out their entire rookie seasons. It happened just last year with the Philadelphia 76ers and Nerlens Noel. Noel was taken with the No. 6 pick even after tearing his ACL while at Kentucky. Clippers star Blake Griffin also missed his entire rookie season with a broken left kneecap. He turned out to be just fine.
The injury issues for Embiid are unquestionably a major concern heading into Thursday's draft. Back and foot injuries are considered to be particularly troublesome for a young big man, and Embiid now has had both in the last four months. For a 20-year-old center considered to have a rare ability to impact the game at both ends, though, it's not exactly a death sentence for his career just yet. There's a reason most thought Embiid would go No. 1 before this latest foot injury, and that's because he's a special prospect.
The diagnosis on his foot may not change that. It will mean he's going to have to wait longer than anyone anticipated to finally get his start in the NBA, though.