The Philadelphia 76ers will be without Joel Embiid for the second straight season after the team announced that the young center will have surgery on his foot and now the Sixers likely will use Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel as the main starters this year over Sam Hinkie adding anyone in trades to replace Embiid.
The Sixers took Embiid with the third overall pick last year, but he did not play last season after undergoing surgery on his foot. Embiid now will be out for a second straight season, as the Philadelphia Inquirer & Daily News reports that Embiid will undergo "bone graft surgery" after the "latest setback" in his return from a right foot injury. Embiid will have the surgery in the next "7 to 10" days and a source said there is a "great possibility" that Embiid will not play at all next season.
John Gonzalez at CSN Philly reports that the timetable for Embiid's return is "unknown" and has not yet been determined and the date likely will come after Embiid has surgery. Embiid has not been able to get on the court for the Sixers and he had the potential to be the number one overall pick after a strong year at Kansas. Embiid finished with averages of 11 points and eight rebounds per game and he went third behind Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker.
The Sixers took another big man this year with the number three pick, selecting Jahlil Okafor out of Duke. Okafor now has the chance to step into a starting role with Nerlens Noel and both of those players are the main ones the Sixers are trying to build around. Embiid's future is not firmly in questions if he misses a second straight season with foot issues and that puts pressure on Okafor and Noel to stay healthy and productive.
Okafor is playing with the Sixers Summer League team and he has been up and down in three games so far. Okafor finished his first game with 20 points and nine rebounds and he later added 13 points and nine rebounds in his second game. Okafor is a strong offensive player and he mostly needs to work on his defense heading into the season.
Noel missed his rookie season with a knee injury but he was able to come back and play in 75 games last season. Noel averaged 9.9 points and eight rebounds per game and he will be the Sixers main starter at power forward while Okafor likely will get time at center. Earlier in the offseason it looked like Embiid might even have a chance to play in the Summer League, but instead doctors told the Sixers Embiid should take it easy and later the center had another setback.
The Sixers pulled off a trade with the Kings for Nik Stauskas this offseason and it was mainly a salary dump deal for Sacramento. Stauskas could play for the summer league team,but he is recovering from ankle surgery and may not be ready in time. Stauskas played limited minutes for the Kings and he could get more of a chance in Philly after averaging four points and one rebound per game last season.
The source said to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer: "I would say there's a great possibility that Embiid won't play next year," the source said. "Just think how long they sat him when they thought he was healthy."