The Philadelphia 76ers are once again entering the season with Joel Embiid on the shelf.
The Sixers took Embiid with the third pick in the 2014 draft with high expectations, despite a fractured bone in his foot that would cause him to miss several months.
As the season went on, though, it became clear Embiid wouldn’t play his rookie season as his rehab took a long time.
Things got worse in the offseason when Embiid reportedly had a setback on the same foot and would require surgery expected to keep him out for a second straight season.
According to Brian Geltzeiler on SI’s The Cauldron, Embiid hardly helped matters. Geltzeiler reports that the 76ers have struggled to make Embiid wear a walking boot on his surgically repaired foot last year, and that his refusal to do so may have created the need for a second surgery.
Embiid’s lax approach to his rehab and the circumstances surrounding the second foot surgery he needed this past summer … has caused the organisation much anxiety. The simple task of getting Embiid to consistently wear his walking boot was a challenge for the franchise, and multiple sources suggested that some people in Philadelphia’s front office wonder whether a second surgery would have been necessary if Embiid had worn the boot as much as he was told to.
Geltzeiler added that the Sixers didn’t want Embiid to go to Las Vegas for Summer League this year, which Embiid did anyway. While there, he was supposed to wear a walking boot, but did not, and reportedly carried on practicing, shooting jumpers, and dunking. According to Geltzeiler, some people believe Embiid actually re-broke his foot while there instead of just having a setback.
During the summer, there was a lengthy amount of time between the report of the setback and actual surgery, which Geltzeiler says may have been due to the Vegas trip. Sixers GM Sam Hinkie had a refreshing approach to the delay, however, saying it was about Embiid finding doctors he liked and getting comfortable with the procedure.
Geltzeiler, though, makes it sound like taking care of Embiid is a handful. He reportedly has a bad diet, and while Geltziler says reports of Embiid’s weight-gain last year were overblown, he does say the 76ers send employees to stock his refrigerator with healthy foods, which usually get thrown out because Embiid won’t eat it.
The situation with Embiid is alarming at this point, however. He’s had two surgeries in two years on the same foot, and hasn’t played a single minute in the NBA yet. Given some of the attitude problems that Geltzeiler reports, plus the learning curve Embiid will face when he’s healthy enough to play, it seems like he’s a long way off from being the franchise center Philadelphia hoped for.
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