Philadelphia, PA – The Philadelphia 76ers and their star player, Joel Embiid, face a setback as Embiid will undergo surgery for a lateral meniscus injury in his left knee, the team announced on Sunday. The reigning NBA MVP’s recovery timeline is uncertain, but he is expected to be out of action for a significant amount of time.
The injury occurred during a game against the Golden State Warriors on Jan. 30 when Jonathan Kuminga landed on Embiid’s leg during a fight for the ball. This diagnosis comes as a blow to the 76ers’ hopes of making a deep postseason run and effectively eliminates Embiid from the MVP race, as players must appear in 65 games to be eligible for the end-of-season award.
With Embiid averaging 35.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 5.7 assists, his absence will be keenly felt. The 76ers’ trade deadline strategy and postseason aspirations will be impacted by his injury, prompting the team to carefully consider their options in light of the uncertainty surrounding their star player’s health.
Before his injury, the 76ers were considered potential buyers following their trade of James Harden to the Los Angeles Clippers in October. However, the team must now weigh the logic of investing in short-term additions if Embiid’s health status remains unclear.
Embiid’s injury also puts the team’s hopes of reaching the Eastern Conference finals in jeopardy. With a slipping record in the wake of his absence, the 76ers are now fifth in the Eastern Conference, highlighting the impact of their franchise player’s unavailability.
The 29-year-old center has a history of knee injuries, including a previous meniscus tear that required season-ending surgery in 2017. This latest setback could have implications for his future, as it may affect his ability to participate in the upcoming Olympics in Paris and could potentially jeopardize his hopes of claiming a third straight scoring title.
The decision to undergo knee surgery comes after a particularly eventful period for Embiid, who scored a career-high 70 points against the San Antonio Spurs before falling to the court with a knee injury during a game against the Indiana Pacers. Despite not being listed on the injury report for a game against the Denver Nuggets, he was a late scratch after a pregame workout, prompting the NBA to fine the 76ers for failing to list him on the report in an accurate and timely manner.