The Philadelphia 76ers announced Wednesday that All-Star center Joel Embiid will be out for at least a week with left knee soreness and guard Furkan Korkmaz will be out indefinitely with a meniscus tear, further depleting an already thin roster while also impairing the Sixers’ ability to get their new-look team on the same page.
“Evidently, it reached a stage where [Embiid] just felt uncomfortable with it,” Sixers coach Brett Brown told reporters following Wednesday’s practice at the team’s Camden, New Jersey, facility. “So he had an MRI on it; there’s a little bit of tendinitis. It’s stuff that, I think, is quite common, actually.”
Brown, who said Embiid had the MRI on Tuesday, didn’t believe Embiid playing in Sunday’s All-Star Game — he had 10 points and 12 rebounds in 23 minutes — did anything to add to the lingering soreness the big man has had in his knee for some time.
“I don’t,” Brown said. “I really don’t. … It’s a natural dot-connector, but it shouldn’t be, to think it had anything to do with it.
“The bottom line is nobody needs to read into anything here. This is an NBA athlete that has some soreness in a knee, that has had an MRI, and we all should move on. We’ll miss him, obviously, playing-wise, but it’s not anything that isn’t completely pointed toward keeping him ready, and especially keeping him ready when it matters most at the end of the year.”
Any Embiid injury, however, is given greater scrutiny than that of a typical player’s. Embiid, 24, missed all of the first two seasons of his career because of injuries, and then he missed 51 games in his third year — which, technically, became his rookie season.
But after playing 63 games last season, Embiid has played 54 of Philadelphia’s 58 games so far this year — though he has dealt with lingering back stiffness and knee soreness in recent weeks. What was never in question, though, was Embiid’s talent — and he has been better than ever this season, averaging career highs in points (27.3), rebounds (13.5), assists (3.5), minutes (33.7) and free throw percentage (81.1).
Korkmaz, meanwhile, has been a consistent member of Philadelphia’s rotation after the team remade its roster prior to the trade deadline. The first-round pick in 2016, who had his fourth-year player option declined by the team in October, is averaging 5.8 points per game and shooting 33 percent from 3-point range.
Brown said before the All-Star break that Korkmaz and two players brought in as part of the overhaul — James Ennis III and Jonathon Simmons — would be competing against each other for playoff minutes over the next several weeks. It would appear Korkmaz is now out of that competition by default, though the team didn’t officially say he would be having knee surgery.
Philadelphia is still acclimating to its new starting lineup after making its second massive trade of the season, acquiring forward Tobias Harris on Feb. 6. The Sixers sent Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala, rookie Landry Shamet and two future first-round picks to the Los Angeles Clippers for Harris, Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott.