Draft becomes more uncertain with Embiid injury

VIDEO: Joel Embiid suffered a right foot injury

The top of the NBA Draft -– and the future of Joel Embiid –- became more uncertain than ever Thursday with news that the Kansas center suffered a stress fracture in his right foot and was scheduled for surgery on Friday, six days before he could have been the No. 1 pick.

Embiid’s agent, Arn Tellem, confirmed the diagnosis, saying Embiid would not attend the draft next Thursday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Tellem said there would be no additional comment, including the all-important question of how long Embiid is expected to miss, until after the operation.

The foot injury this late in the process would have been concern enough for the Cavaliers with the first selection, the Bucks with the second and the 76ers with the third. The foot injury on top of the fractured back that prematurely ended Embiid’s season at Kansas, though, makes a tumble out of the top three very likely and a free fall to the second half of the lottery possible.

It’s the double risk that sets Embiid apart from others that have been picked near the top despite existing injury concerns, as recently as a year ago with Anthony Bennett going to Cleveland with the first choice, Alex Len to Phoenix with the fifth and Nerlens Noel to Philadelphia, after officially being selected by New Orleans as part of a trade, when it was known each would miss summer league. Taking Embiid in the top three now, when there are reasonable alternatives on the board for each franchise, would be an invitation to unimaginable heat if the health problems continue.
Exactly how far does he drop?

Teams will like-wise wait until more specifics are known from the surgery, and then examining medical records, before making any decision. But it’s a very tough sell for several front offices just on existing circumstances.

Cleveland at No. 1. The Cavaliers are determined to make a playoff push after the implosion of 2013-14. That was wreckage everywhere. They simply cannot push all-in with a one-and-done 7-footer who now has an expanding injury history, at a time the Cavs may also lose free agent Luol Deng for nothing. They just can’t.

Milwaukee at No. 2. The Bucks have new ownership. That generally doesn’t come with the opening statement of “Let’s take a step back and think 2015-16.”

Philadelphia at No. 3. The 76ers would have been a logical solution, assuming the post-surgery report from doctors say Embiid will miss months but, with the proper care, be able to play for years. (Because that’s what the post-surgery report will almost certainly say.) And Philly also has a cushion with the No. 10 pick, guaranteeing at least one highly regarded rookie will play. The Sixers, though, just spent an entire season waiting for Noel to get healthy after a knee operation. It’s hard to imagine they want to play the waiting game again.

Orlando at No. 4. The Magic have Nikola Vucevic. They wouldn’t have a need for Embiid at 100 percent.

Jazz at No. 5. They’ve been in the lottery three of the last four seasons. There has to be a concerted effort to make a big push now.

Celtics at No. 6. Not a terrible thought. As much as Boston obviously want the same forward progress as the others, if the team doctors agree with Embiid’s doctors, and that’s no guarantee, the Celtics could weigh the unexpected opportunity of getting a foundation center this late against the lesser talents on the board.

Lakers at No. 7. They did the Andrew Bynum knee(s) thing not too long ago. And they have zero for the bridge to the future, unlike the other teams picking ahead of them. This has to be a hit.

Kings at No. 8. This could have been a very good landing spot. Embiid is a very good fit next to DeMarcus Cousins, the kind of defensive presence inside Sacramento needs, a center who wouldn’t take shots from Cousins at power forward. But the Kings have made it clear they’re not looking forward to another season of a rookie learning curve. Drafting Embiid could essentially mean two seasons.

Hornets at No. 9. Al Jefferson is locked in. Charlotte could have internal conversations about two or three more years with Jefferson setting up the move to Embiid, but other needs are more pressing for a team that got a lottery pick despite making the playoffs and now has to continue the momentum.

Philadelphia at No. 10. At this point, with a second pick, the 76ers have to do it, right? Right?


  1. OldCelt says:

    Wherever he lands, I just hope he gets well soon and will have a long NBA career. When I look at that pic I just can’t help but think ‘Dikembe Mutombo’ for some reason. As a C’s fan, if he is availiable at no.6 … I’d take him. We have plenty of picks in the next draft and some cap space as well, just can’t miss this kind of high-risk-high-reward player.

  2. Joel Embiid probably isn’t/won’t be as good as people made him up to be.

  3. SPURSfan4life says:

    EMIID isnt even worth picking. he is clumsey/ goofy. only been playing volleyball his whole life. the bucks should take him cause they got the season to waste AGAIN

  4. bob says:


  5. Mike Matthews says:

    30 years after the 1984 Michael Jordan draft, Cleveland does not want to risk drafting a player that could wind up being the next Sam Bowie. Too many other players to choose from. The hope is that Embiid will heal up and some lucky team will wind up a late round gem, but fragile Big Men usually don’t work out ( Hello Greg Oden ) or only have spotty success (What’s up Andrew Bynum). I hope he can recover and play NBA ball, but you cannot use a no1 overall pick on a question mark player.

  6. richie078 says:

    Drafting high risk players like this, usually always works out well…for the player.

  7. MJ says:

    Seriously Embiid, just go back to college, heal up and then play on the pros. You just played basketball for only a few short years and Injuries will pile up and you may not be able to play anymore. Go back to college to strengthen yourself please. The NBA today has a very few Good centers. Do not become Greg Oden, enough said.

    • TO says:

      Why would he give up guaranteed money? What if stinks it up in college and never heals? Of course he’s staying in the draft and even at the 5th pick, he is still getting paid enough

      • Stephen says:

        Also at this point he can’t go back to college. he is ineligible by NCAA standards. If he withdraws he has to just sit out or go overseas. Neither of which I think he would want to do.

  8. stucktrader says:

    It would have been hilarious (for the rest of the league, not this kid nor Cavs) if this injury happened AFTER the Cavs drafted him. A team with 1.9% chance of getting #1…

    alas… J. Parker is going to be a Cavalier…

  9. lacrampa says:

    michael jordan please come back

  10. kttt says:

    This injury is not big of a deal… He will easily remain in top 1 or 2.

  11. Karlo Garcia says:

    In this day & age talented & highly skilled PF/C do not come very often in NBA Drafts so I can understand why teams are cautious about drafted those kind of players because in the past we have witnessed players like Greg Oden,Blake Griffin & Norlens Noel have similar injuries. I expect Joel Embiid to drop to No. 7 – 9 at least in the 2014 NBA Draft.

  12. Anderson Adam says:

    drafting him is either having an Olajuwon-like or Greg Oden-like. High risk high return. most likely will fall to 76ers on their 10th pick, should celtics decide to play safe.

  13. JCA says:

    I think Embid will go to the Jazz. They were starting power forwards at the center position for most of last season.

  14. Tim says:


  15. Abdul says:

    that totally screws over the 76ers.

    • Matt says:

      Totally agree. The 76ers either wanted parker or wiggins both both of them will be gone already almost surely.
      philly can probably pick dante exum, whom they don’t need, and look for a trade

      • MrHegemony says:

        There’s also the chance that the Cavs look into trading down with the 76ers who are motivated to get Wiggins.

  16. Unkaned says:

    Actually, I see Embiid dropping to 10th where Philly will absolutely take him, since they have only Nerlen Noels who is also a risk of becoming Andrew Bynum — but have the 3rd pick to take another really good player. I don’t think any of the other 9 teams above them will or can risk this. For a guard, a foot injury is no big deal. But for a center, game after game landing on fellow-player’s feet under the boards, a foot injury may be worse than a back injury, and a guy who has one this early in his B-ball career is likely to have lots of them. Remember Bill Walton!

  17. Windy breeze says:

    I think it is way to early to be thinking negative, remember when Blake Griffin got hurt and everybody was saying this same Greg Oden nonsense. He came back and just dominated the league

  18. ben says:


  19. rdeano7 says:

    Broken feet mend! No way he drops out the top 5

  20. allstar says:

    i think hell land in la

  21. paul says:

    That is really sad. This kid has a lot of potential, but is he a Greg Oden 2.0?

  22. OKC says:

    If you think this injury is going to make him drop anywhere below 6 you are WAY off. I say he is still a top 3 pick and whoever picks him will either be thanking god in a few years or kicking themselves for missing out on all the other talent in this draft.

    His build and athleticism combined with the fact that he has come so far in so short a time just make him too great of a prospect to ignore.

  23. Tkelly says:

    the caves better get wiggins or parker nuff said

  24. Kimmy says:

    Better teams know about his medical issues prior to the draft. Noel Jerlens case in point. He had limited playing time and probably never would have been selected so high in the draft had they known what they know now.

    • hmm says:

      who is this Noel Jerlens? where does he come from? what team does he play for? ain’t in the nba for sure. what is certain is he’s not playing ’cause he’s never been drafted

      • imissthethunder says:

        Sorry, I meant to say Nerlens Noel. He’s a bum anyway so who cares how I spelled it..

  25. john says:

    if sixers could swoop exum with 3 now an embid at 10 wow! obviously many questions surrounding embid and noel at the moment but what a scary it would be! that would be 1 long team~

  26. Ben says:

    Could be a blessing in disguise for the Cavaliers. I wasn’t sold on Embiid’s overall performance in college, but I understood the Cavaliers train of thought with how rare athletic big men are in the NBA and I too was almost sold on his “potential” upside, But this type of injury has often times cursed many 7 footers in the NBA. I have to believe Andrew Wiggins will now be the overwhelming front runner for the #1 pick.

  27. shanek says:

    I feel bad for this kid. What a horrible thing to happen to such a nice guy. But on a brighter note: he will still be paid millions throughout his career for having the gift of being an athletic freak and 7’0″ tall. everything in perspective.

  28. steppx says:

    I think a third of the teams take him off their boards altogether. This is too good a draft for one thing. At #9….nik stauskas, or Nurkic…..or greg oden?

    • JCA says:

      At #9, the logical pick is Doug McDermott. The Hronets need an upgrade at that postion (SF) and someone who can shoot. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had a solid rookie season, but had a bit of a sophomore slump in 2013-14.