There’s a legitimate chance that Joel Embiid won’t play at all during the 2015/16 season, writes Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, who hears from sources who paint a cloudy picture of the center’s future. One of Pompey’s sources was doubtful that Embiid will play at the beginning of the season, while Pompey heard from an NBA executive who isn’t surprised by Embiid’s latest setback, citing a refusal on the part of the Cavs and Bucks to even consider him with the first two picks last year. A recent CT scan revealed less healing than anticipated for Embiid, whom the Sixers drafted third overall last year.
Embiid has yet to so much as take part in five-on-five drills after having surgery last June to repair a stress fracture in the navicular bone in his right foot, Pompey notes. Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News cautions that his lack of five-on-five play is because there aren’t enough Sixers teammates sticking around Philly this summer, as Embiid is, for a 10-man scrimmage. In any case, Embiid was expected to recover within eight months, which would have had him healthy in February, as Pompey points out, but the Sixers took a cautious approach and held him out the entire season. The 21-year-old from Cameroon had looked sharp, like the candidate to become the No. 1 overall pick he had been before the surgery, in recent workouts, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported, but his latest health update has clearly brought about serious concerns.
Philadelphia’s rebuilding plan is “in trouble” if Embiid can’t stay healthy, an Eastern Conference executive opined to Pompey. A source nonetheless told Pompey that Embiid’s setback wouldn’t change the team’s draft plan this year, since the Sixers, again picking third overall, intend to use it on the best available talent anyway. Tom Moore of Calkins Media isn’t so sure that it won’t affect the team’s approach to some degree and lays out a few hypotheticals for the draft. Moore speculates that the team’s apparent enthusiasm for bringing over draft-and-stash prospect Dario Saric immediately stems from worry about Embiid in light of his latest exam.
Embiid is set for a guaranteed salary of nearly $4.627MM in 2015/16. Philadelphia has until October 31st to decide on a team option for his more than $4.826MM salary for 2016/17.