Storyline: Joel Embiid Injury

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Keith Pompey: Colangelo on if Embiid had a setback: “No. He’s a 7-foot, 280-pound specimen that had knee surgery in the offseason. You know, cut his season short. He had five-and-half, six months to his return to play. It looks like if you walked into the gym. He could be playing five-on-five basketball. But once again, we are going to take our cues from people that now best.”

You mention Rihanna, any update on your pursuit of Rihanna? Joel Embiid: No, I’m focused on rehab [laughs]. That can wait. My career comes first right now. Speaking of, how is your knee feeling and where are you at in the rehab process? Joel Embiid: I’m feeling good. I’m supposed to see the doctor next week and they’re going to check everything just to make sure everything looks good. But I’ve been feeling good so I expect to be back on the court next week.

Philadelphia 76ers Director Of Performance Research & Development Dr. David T. Martin: “Joel will complete his initial rehabilitation in Los Angeles, with specialists and our medical and training staff committed to a conservative and measured rehabilitation and recovery plan. Based on the program that has been outlined, we will continually evaluate Joel’s progress against predetermined benchmarks and anticipate he will resume basketball activities this summer.”

The 7-2 center met up with the Sixers last weekend in Los Angeles, where they played back-to-back games against the Clippers and Lakers. The team said he was going to meet one of his doctors there to check out the torn meniscus in his left knee. Then Thursday, the team announced that Embiid stayed behind in Los Angeles with Dr. David Martin, the Sixers’ director of performance research and development, and the two traveled to San Diego to see another specialist.

Missing 215 out of a possible 246 games to start his career looks really, really bad. And, to be fair, it is. But that perspective is painted almost entirely by the navicular bone which caused him to miss his first two seasons. When you isolate the new information, and how that impacts his future health, this meniscus tear isn’t likely to be a big factor down the road. It’s an injury that looks bad because of the previous two seasons. That looks bad because he’ll end up missing 51 games this year, even though that number is heavily influenced by the team’s cautious approach to bringing him back, as Embiid missed 11 games prior to the January 20th injury, through little fault of his own.

Prior to Monday night’s game against the Bucks, Sixers coach Brett Brown was asked if Simmons and Joel Embiid, whose left knee and cautiousness with his right foot surgeries are limiting him to 31 games this season, would play in the summer. “I think it’s too early to make that judgment,” Brown said. “I hear the question, but I think that’s certainly stuff that we’re talking about. But in relation to giving a definite answer, we’re not even close to being there yet.”

Meniscus tears typically require trimming out the piece that’s torn or completely stitching it back into place. If the Sixers do opt for one of those options, Dr. Mark Schwartz of Virtua Health still expects Embiid to be back for the start of the 2017-18 campaign. “Ideally, you hope you can actually repair it. Long term, it’s in his benefit,” Schwartz, who is not treating Embiid, said on Wednesday’s edition of Philly Sports Talk. “Either way, he should be back for next season with no restrictions.”

“I think initially the bulk of the symptoms were coming from the bone bruise and the meniscal symptoms were probably in the background,” Schwartz said. “Now that the recent MRI reportedly shows improvement in the bone bruise, I think now that the symptoms from the menisci have come to the surface and I think the new MRI shows the meniscal tear to be bigger than originally thought. “I think the next step now that you know that he’s not going to be playing for the rest of the season and he still has these symptoms and he’s had this meniscal tear for quite some time now, I think the next logical step is to look into his knee arthroscopically.”

Joel Embiid out for the season

Embiid’s status is changed from out indefinitely to out for the remainder of this season. “Our primary objective and focus remains to protect his long-term health and ability to perform on the basketball court,” said Sixers President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo. “As our medical team and performance staff continue their diligence in the evaluation, treatment, and rehabilitation of Joel’s injury, we will provide any pertinent updates when available.”

As previously announced, Sixers center Joel Embiid underwent an MRI on his left knee Monday afternoon, allowing the team’s medical staff an opportunity to provide an update on the results. “The assessment of Monday’s follow-up MRI of Joel Embiid’s left knee appears to reveal that the area affected by the bone bruise has improved significantly, while the previously identified meniscus tear appears more pronounced in this most recent scan,” said Sixers Chief Medical Director and Co-Chief of Sports Medicine Orthopedics at New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center Dr. Jonathan Glashow. “We will continue to work with leading specialists to gather additional information through clinical examination and sequential testing to determine the best course of action and next steps.”

After announcing earlier in the day that the Sixers phenom would be kept out indefinitely due to soreness and swelling in his right knee, host Michael Barkann asked Colangelo why the team wouldn’t just have surgery on Embiid and get it over with. “Are you a doctor now?” Colangelo shot back at the host. “With all due respect, medical injuries are injuries that require care and attention.” “When I take information that comes from the medical team, including doctors and the training staff and the physiotherapists, we apply it as instructed and we do that to protect the athlete,” Colangelo added. “In a case of jumping into someone’s knee to operate, when the circumstances are known but the conditions and how he’s reacting to certain things are still unknown, I think you go through the planned progression of steps as prescribed and evaluated by doctors, not by a general manager and certainly not by a television co-host.”

It’d be pretty discouraging under any circumstances for Embiid to get shut down again—and it looks as if that will not be necessary, according to league sources. There is a possibility Embiid will need an offseason procedure to address the slight meniscus tear in his knee—but only if symptoms persist. The belief is his symptoms will subside because the bone bruise is causing most of his current discomfort…and a lot of rest over the break will help that.

Joel Embiid has a torn meniscus in his left knee, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. The tear was discovered after Embiid underwent an MRI following a 93-92 victory on January 20th over the Portland Trailblazers. Embiid left the game in the third quarter with a left knee contusion after landing awkwardly following a drive to the basket.

There is some thought that the torn meniscus could be a pre-existing condition which the ensuing MRI discovered, rather than caused by the fall on January 20th, although the two injuries being related has not been completely ruled out. The tear is a low-grade tear and is not expected to require surgical intervention. It is unclear whether the tear is contributing to the soreness and swelling which has kept Embiid out of 11 of the last 12 games, including the last 8 in a row.
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October 20, 2017 | 9:05 pm EDT Update