Sixers see 'far more mature' Joel Embiid heading into meniscus surgery

Sixers see 'far more mature' Joel Embiid heading into meniscus surgery

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Joel Embiid and the Sixers can now officially begin the next step toward his return.

The team announced on Wednesday Embiid will undergo surgery on his left knee to repair a meniscus tear in the coming days (see story), marking the newest chapter in his recovery from the injury discovered in January.

"I think it's just going to plan," Brown said of the surgery before the Sixers' game against the Thunder.

The Sixers shut down Embiid for the season earlier this month. Surgery had been an option since then. Embiid has been to the West Coast where he met with doctors to gather additional information and opinions.

The tear was discovered during an MRI after Embiid suffered a bone bruise on Jan. 20. There were no changes in the tear between the first and second MRI, but a third scan revealed it was "more pronounced."

Before Embiid underwent surgery on the meniscus, the Sixers wanted to make sure the bone bruise had healed.

"There's been tremendous due diligence, there's been tremendous research," Brown said. "The club and everybody showed tremendous patience in trying to learn in fairness to Joel, who's taken an active role in this, as he should. Soon we'll be able to give some finality and more clarity to this news."

The Sixers have not announced a timetable for Embiid's return and whether or not he is expected to be ready for the start of next season. The location of the operation will be disclosed after it is completed.

"I just hope he gets healthy and makes his way back," Gerald Henderson said.

What is certain is how much of a change Brown has seen in Embiid from his first surgery on his foot in 2014 when the Sixers drafted him third overall.

"This time around, you just saw a far more mature, inquisitive person," Brown said, "very much understanding that this is his profession and he's curious about what direction this is all going. It is far different than a kid out of Kansas that I met three years ago. I say that with complete respect and complete confidence that he will handle this as a pro."

Jahlil Okafor also underwent surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his right knee exactly one year ago. Given Embiid's experience with injuries, he doesn't plan to share recovery tips but rather encourage him to get well.

"He's been through a couple surgeries himself. He knows what he has to do," Okafor said. "He knows how to handle it the right way to make sure he's in the best situation so he can play next season. I can't really give him any advice. ... Best wishes to him and I hope for a speedy recovery."

This offseason will be Embiid's third of rehab. He's been down this road before, and the Sixers hope this path brings him to a full season of health.

"It's good to hear that they're getting on it," Nik Stauskas said. "Obviously, he's going to have the whole summer to recover from it. It's probably good timing to get on it now and give him four, five, maybe even six months to fully get better from it. We're all praying for him, we're hoping for the best and hopefully, the results of his surgery are exactly what he needs and he has a speedy recovery."

Joel Embiid to undergo surgery on left knee

Joel Embiid to undergo surgery on left knee

Updated: 6:40 p.m.

It's official. 

Sixers center Joel Embiid will undergo surgery to repair the torn meniscus in his left knee. The time and place have not been disclosed. 

The team made the announcement a couple hours after ESPN's Marc Stein reported that Embiid "very likely" would need surgery. 

Embiid's season ended in late January after just 31 games because of a pair of left knee injuries -- a bone bruise and partially torn meniscus. The meniscus tear was discovered in an MRI following the Sixers' win over Portland on Jan. 20, when Embiid suffered the bone bruise. He missed the next three games and returned on Jan. 27 for a nationally televised game against Houston. In what turned out to be his final game of the season, Embiid had 32 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks in a 123-118 loss to the Rockets. (James Harden scored 51 points.)

The Sixers monitored the meniscus in a second MRI, and there were no signs of change. A third MRI revealed the tear was "more pronounced" than in the first two. There's a thought Embiid further injured the meniscus during a practice in late February.

Embiid was with the Sixers on their recent West Coast road trip and visited specialists in California to receive more advice about treatment. 

"It's all on the table. We're trying to do homework," Brett Brown said about Embiid March 10. "There's nothing, to me, news in what I said. It's just reviewing it all. He's got an inner circle around him that's helping guide him, and we're just taking all the information in. Ultimately, he's the one that has to feel most comfortable with it."

No timetable has been announced for Embiid's return, but Jahlil Okafor had surgery to repair a torn meniscus on March 22 of last year -- exactly a year ago -- and was ready for the season opener, albeit on a minutes restriction. The restriction was lifted on Nov. 21.

Embiid averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists this season. He shot 46.6 percent from the floor, including 36.7 percent from three, and 78.3 percent from the line.'s Jessica Camerato contributed to this report.

Report: Sixers made a significant trade offer for Pacers star Paul George

Report: Sixers made a significant trade offer for Pacers star Paul George

The top two available players at this season's trade deadline were Paul George and Jimmy Butler, two star wings on middling teams that would almost certainly be better off rebuilding.

Teams that have a boatload of young and future assets -- the Sixers, Celtics and Lakers -- were connected to George and Butler but no agreements were reached.

Thanks to Liberty Ballers, we now know a little bit more about the Sixers' offer.

According to the website, the Sixers offered the Pacers at least two first-round picks, Robert Covington and a young big (either Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor) for George.

The Sixers have at least three extremely valuable future draft picks: their own 2017 pick, the Kings' unprotected 2019 first-rounder, and a pick from the Lakers, which is top-three protected this year and unprotected next year.

Say the Sixers traded the Pacers Noel, Covington, the Lakers pick and Kings pick. It would have left them with a nucleus of George, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric and whomever they take in the upcoming draft.

Not bad, not bad at all.

But also not enough to land George, apparently.

George, who grew up in Palmdale, California, and went to school at Fresno State, has been connected often to the Lakers. He's also made it clear he doesn't want to be traded to a team that depletes itself to acquire him -- think the Knicks and Nuggets with Carmelo Anthony.

The thing is, to acquire a player of George's caliber, the Sixers would be forfeiting significant assets without a guarantee that he re-signs when his contract expires after the 2017-18 season. (George has a player option for 2018-19 at $20.7 million but there's almost no chance he exercises it.)

Probably not worth it, especially considering the Cavaliers' current championship window in the East will last at least two more years.

But the Paul George trade talks aren't dead. Indiana will likely listen to offers again this offseason and possibly next trade deadline. 

There are few teams positioned to land a big fish like George, and the Sixers are one of them. One major reason for maintaining salary cap flexibility and acquiring so many high draft picks is to parlay them into a superstar when the opportunity arises.

George's standing in the NBA has dropped ever-so-slightly the last few years, and he is unlikely to make any of the three all-NBA teams, behind forwards LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Anthony Davis (unless Davis is counted as a center). Why does that matter? Because if and only if George makes any of the three all-NBA teams this season, the Pacers would be eligible to give him a five-year, $200 million extension that would trounce any other team's offer in free agency.

Even though George is probably behind those six aforementioned frontcourt players, he's still obviously a superstar, one who also contributes at the defensive end. He's the kind of player you go all-in for when the timing is right.