The last time that we saw Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid on a basketball court, he was playing through a meniscus tear that he suffered in the first round of the playoffs against the Washington Wizards. Embiid missed a game as a result of the injury, but he returned for Philadelphia's second round matchup against the Atlanta Hawks, and he played in all seven games of the series.
The knee didn't seem to bother Embiid too much against Atlanta, as he averaged 30.4 points and 12.7 rebounds in 37.4 minutes per performance over the series. However, there was some speculation about whether or not Embiid would need to undergo surgery after the season.
Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey spoke to media members after the 2021 NBA Draft, and although he didn't reveal whether or not Embiid needed, or would get, surgery, he did provide an encouraging update on the big man.
"I would say on Joel, he's been in the gym," Morey said. "He was in the gym today working on his game. He has a plan with our medical staff, and we feel good about it and we are not concerned about him medically at all."
The Sixers' success next season -- and beyond -- completely hinges on Embiid's health, so the fact that he's been in the gym and that the Sixers aren't concerned about him at all are obviously promising signs. The lack of information regarding surgery is a bit odd given the fact that the Sixers are well into the offseason at this point, but perhaps Embiid and the Sixers staff have decided to forego surgery in favor of a natural healing process.
"Man, it's a torn meniscus, it is what it is," Embiid told media members after the Sixers were eliminated by the Hawks last month. "I guess there's a good and a bad. We lost so now I can take care of my body. That's something that I thought hard about playing on it, but ultimately I decided to do it. But that was my choice and got to live with the results. At the end of the day, when it comes to my future, I'll be fine."
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In addition to his health, the other pertinant question when it comes to Embiid is if the Sixers will offer him an extension over the offseason. In addition to finishing second in MVP voting behind Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic last season, Embiid was also named to the All-NBA Second Team for the third time in his career. As a result of being named All-NBA, Embiid is now eligible to sign a supermax extension with the Sixers over the offseason. The extension would kick in for the 2023-24 season, as Embiid is currently under contract through 2022-23.
It's very likely that the Sixers will indeed offer Embiid such an extension, given how valuable he has been to the franchise, both on and off the floor. There would probably be some level of concern, given the fact that the extension would be a whole lot of money for a player that has had his fair share of injury issues. But, when it comes to Embiid, the risk is worth the reward. For all of the injury issues he's dealt with, he's been available for Philadelphia in each of the last four postseasons, even playing through that torn meniscus this past season.
The big man's last extension with the Sixers included injury provisions that protected the team. Perhaps they'll do something similar this time around. Regardless, an extension should be expected over the offseason for Embiid, who has clearly established himself as one of the most dominant players in the entire NBA.