In mid-June, there were conflicting reports about Embiid’s need for surgery. One said it was being discussed. Another said it was unnecessary. Nobody reported that it was inevitable.
On July 11, the 76ers announced Embiid would undergo surgery within 7-10 days. Thirty-eight days after that, he actually did.
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.
Also, according to multiple sources, Harris did not want Embiid to attend the annual Las Vegas Summer League this past July so they could proceed with the surgery on his navicular bone. Brown and Hinkie were both given strict instructions by Harris to keep Embiid from going to Vegas, yet each of them put the onus on the other to handle the job, and neither did.
Embiid was determined to go to Vegas to party for the balance of the 10 days of summer league. While Embiid was in Vegas, he was mandated to wear the walking boot in advance of the second surgery, but Embiid not only refused to wear the boot, but he carried himself as if nothing was wrong with the foot, shooting jumpers and even occasionally dunking.
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This isn’t the first report of Embiid being difficult during his rehab process.
The 76ers took a big risk picking Embiid, who hurt himself prior to the draft. For that to pay off, he must get healthy. Right now, it’s not even clear he’ll be ready to make his NBA debut at the start of the 2016-17 season.
It’s understandable that Embiid, 21, wouldn’t always follow strict protocol. He’s young, a new millionaire and unable to play. The ingredients are there for distraction.
But this is the last season his contract is guaranteed. Philadelphia will almost certainly exercise his third-year option, but after that, who knows?
The team needs to reach him. He needs to worker harder at getting healthier.
It’s in everyone’s best interest to do better, though that has been the case for the last year. Will it happen before it’s too late?