Philadelphia 76ers All-Star and reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid will undergo surgery to repair the torn meniscus in his left knee.
The team announced pending procedure Sunday evening in a statement.
“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,” the statement reads.
The procedure is expected to sideline him for “an extended period of time,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.
The news is a blow for Embiid, the 76ers and the NBA. Embiid had emerged as a favorite alongside Nikola Jokić to win MVP for a second straight season. Those hopes are all but dashed thanks in part to new NBA rules implemented this season that require candidates for major individual awards to play a minimum of 65 games.
Embiid has already missed 14 games. He can only miss three more before losing eligibility.
Will Embiid play again this season?
The question now becomes when or even if he’ll be able to play again this season. Per Wojnarowski, “the door isn’t closed” on a return, but a timeline won’t be clear until after the procedure.
Embiid was averaging a career-high and NBA-best 35.3 points alongside 11.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.8 blocks per game while shooting 53.3% from the field and 36.6% from 3-point distance prior to the news of his injury. He was voted as a starter for the All-Star game scheduled for Feb. 18. With his now-expected absence at All-Star weekend, commissioner Adam Silver will be tasked with selecting his replacement.
Embiid had soreness, then a collision on injured knee
Embiid missed games against the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers last week with what was designated as knee soreness. He returned to play Tuesday against the Golden State Warriors. Golden State forward Jonathan Kuminga fell on his knee, and Embiid left the game.
The 76ers announced on Thursday that he’d sustained a meniscus injury. He’s since missed games against the Utah Jazz and Brooklyn Nets.
The Athletic reported on Saturday, citing a 76ers source, that Embiid has been dealing with soreness in his injured knee for much of the season.
The 76ers entered Sunday with a 30-18 record, good for fifth place in the Eastern Conference and 6.5 games behind the first-place Boston Celtics.