PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid may not make his NBA debut until 2016, if at all.
Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers have determined the center will have a second surgery on his right foot, this time a bone graft procedure. The 76ers confirmed the news Saturday night.
The 7-footer from Kansas was the third overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft. He missed his entire rookie season after having surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot last June.
The team announced last month he suffered a setback in his recovery. And now the injury figures to threaten Embiid’s career.
“We have been consistent in our philosophy that our focus will be Joel’s long-term health and wellness to ensure he will have a long and impactful career in the NBA,” 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie said in a statement.
“There was careful consideration given to a number of options related to this particular situation,” Hinkie continued. “A collective decision has been made that the best approach to promote full healing would be to proceed with a bone graft of the fracture site. We anticipate the procedure will take place in the next 7-10 days and result in Joel missing the upcoming season.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer was first to report Embiid will have another operation.
The team used the No. 3 pick last month on Duke center Jahlil Okafor.
The 76ers said they met with doctors around the globe after the realization was struck that Embiid had a setback — summoning experts from New York, North Carolina, Colorado, California, Pennsylvania, Australia, the Netherlands and Qatar to determine the course of action.
“This group of experts unanimously agreed that the routine CT scan in June did reveal less healing than anticipated, an unexpected result since Joel was not experiencing any foot pain,” Hinkie said.
Embiid, a native of Cameroon, played one season in 2013-14 at Kansas and was considered the top pick until injuries set him back. He hurt his back while landing awkwardly during a game and missed the Jayhawks’ final two regular-season games and the Big 12 Tournament. He also missed a victory over Eastern Kentucky and a season-ending loss to Stanford in the NCAA Tournament.
Embiid then had foot surgery before the draft, but the rebuilding Sixers weren’t afraid to take a chance on him at No. 3. Philadelphia is 37-127 under Hinkie and coach Brett Brown.
AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds in Las Vegas contributed to this report.
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