Joel Embiid's availability for the remainder of this season is in question after the Philadelphia 76ers announced Sunday that the reigning NBA MVP will undergo surgery to repair a meniscus injury to his left knee.
The Athletic reported Saturday that Embiid suffered a displaced flap in his meniscus when he was injured in the 76ers' 119-107 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday.
The typical recovery time for such an injury is usually several months, meaning Philadelphia may need a deep run in the playoffs for their superstar center to return this season.
That doesn't seem likely given the Sixers' struggles when Embiid hasn't been available. Philadelphia is 26-8 when Embiid has played this season but 4-10 in games he has missed.
The injury also makes it all but certain that Embiid, who leads the NBA in scoring at 35.3 points per game, will not capture a second consecutive MVP award. Under terms of the NBA's new collective bargaining agreement, players must appear in a minimum of 65 regular-season games to be eligible for honours such as the MVP or All-NBA teams.
Philadelphia currently sits in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with a 30-18 record and trails the rival Boston Celtics by seven games in the race for the No. 1 seed.
BREAKING: 76ers star Joel Embiid — the reigning MVP — will undergo a procedure this week to repair a left meniscus injury, a team official tells ESPN. A recovery timeline is expected after procedure, but expectation is that he will miss an extended period of time. pic.twitter.com/9c3ZqM7iT2— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 5, 2024
The NBA's scoring champion in each of the previous two seasons, Embiid finished second to Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić in NBA MVP voting in both 2020-21 and 2021-22 before claiming the award last season after averaging 33.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists in 66 games and leading the Sixers to the third-best record in the East.
Embiid was putting up even better numbers when healthy in 2023-24, as his scoring and assist (5.7) averages were both career highs and his 11.3 rebounds per game ranks sixth among qualified players.
The 29-year-old has also often been beset by injuries since being selected by Philadelphia with the third overall pick of the 2014 draft. Embiid missed the entire 2014-15 and 2015-16 campaigns recovering from a broken foot and was limited to 31 games the following season due to a left knee injury. He has never played in more than 68 games in a regular season.
Paul Reed, who's averaged 11.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game as a starter this season, will take over as the 76ers' primary center for the time being. Philadelphia may look for additional help prior to Thursday's league trade deadline.