Joel Embiid’s next step is a procedure on his injured left knee.
The Sixers released the following statement Sunday night on Embiid, who left the Sixers’ loss Tuesday to the Warriors in the fourth quarter after Jonathan Kuminga fell on his knee:
“Joel Embiid will have a corrective procedure this week to address an injury to the lateral meniscus in his left knee. An update will be provided following the procedure.”
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Though the Sixers did not provide an estimated timeline for Embiid’s return, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Embiid is expected to “miss an extended period of time” and “the door isn’t closed on an Embiid return this season.”
After earning the NBA’s MVP award last year, Embiid was having an even better 2023-24 season. Over 34 games, he’s averaged a league-leading 35.3 points, 11.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists. He scored a Sixers-record 70 points vs. the Spurs in his last home game.
“Obviously it’s difficult,” Sixers head coach Nick Nurse said Saturday night when asked how Embiid was doing. “I think there’s a lot going on that he’s got to do. But for me, he’s been pretty positive. I’ve had a lot of back-and-forth with him and I would say he’s positive.”
The Sixers’ loss Saturday to the Nets dropped them to 4-10 this season without Embiid.
Tobias Harris (illness), Nicolas Batum (left hamstring strain), De’Anthony Melton (lumbar spine stress response) and Robert Covington (left knee bone bruise) also missed the game. Harris wasn’t at the Sixers’ practice Sunday, but the team listed him as questionable for their Monday night matchup vs. the Mavericks. All the other injured Sixers remain out.
Tyrese Maxey, who scored a career-high 51 points Thursday night against the Jazz, is the Sixers’ clear No. 1 option with Embiid sidelined. Paul Reed and Mo Bamba have been the team’s two primary centers in Embiid-less games.
“There’s 48 minutes out there at that position and I would like to share it with those two guys,” Nurse said. “I think ideally, that’s what I’d like to do. If something presents itself where we have to go smaller or neither one of them are out there for whatever reason, we’ll do it. We’ll always do what we’ve got to do on a night-to-night basis. … But just energy — play hard. Take care of the defensive rebounding side of it. Facilitate the best they can offensively. If there’s opportunities there, take ‘em.
“Paul’s strength is rebounding, man. He’s got to really defensive rebound, and offensive rebound to create extra possessions. Mo’s No. 1 strength for us is probably rim protection. As I’ve been saying since Day 1, keep taking swings and keep coming up with blocked shots. He had a huge block late in the game the other night (in Utah) that was really a great momentum play to get us over the hump.”
The 30-18 Sixers sit fifth in the Eastern Conference standings. With two games left before the Thursday trade deadline, they'll move forward without their franchise cornerstone.