The Philadelphia 76ers are incapable of a normal, uneventful, reasonably successful season.
Joel Embiid is expected to undergo a procedure to repair his torn left meniscus and miss "an extended period of time," per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Embiid spent the week weighing his options with team officials after Jonathan Kuminga fell awkwardly on his knee during the Sixers' loss to the Golden State Warriors on Jan. 30.
The 7-footer was officially diagnosed with a "displaced flap" in his left meniscus, which is a type of tear. Embiid dealt with left knee soreness for several games leading up to the injury, but Nick Nurse told reporters the meniscus injury is unrelated to the ongoing soreness. Shams Charania of The Athletic termed Embiid's upcoming surgery as a "corrective procedure."
Before the injury, Embiid was widely favored to repeat as league MVP. He averaged 35.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 5.7 assists on .533/.366/.883 splits in 34.0 minutes in 34 games.
Now, the Sixers face a difficult stretch without their best player. It's an unequivocal disaster for a team with a very limited title window.
76ers will miss Joel Embiid for "extended period of time" after meniscus surgery
This is not the first time Embiid has injured his left meniscus. Knee injuries have been a common bugaboo for the 29-year-old since he entered the league in 2014. The former No. 3 pick out of Kansas, Embiid famously sat on the bench for his first two seasons to rehab nagging foot issues.
Embiid has never really put together a healthy front-to-back season for the Sixers. He has been hurt in the playoffs almost every time. Listed at 7-foot and 280 pounds, Embiid obviously puts a great deal of stress on his joints. He has committed to learning how to fall and how to better manage his health over the years, but time and time again, Embiid's most promising moments are cut short.
There is, however, a glimmer of hope. According to Derek Bodner of PHLY Sports, the procedure does not "close the door" on Embiid returning before the end of the season. The Sixers are currently 30-18, which places fifth in the Eastern Conference. One has to imagine the tentative plan is to remain as competitive as possible, with hopes of Embiid returning in time for a postseason run.
In Embiid's absence, the Sixers will turn to Paul Reed as their starting center, with Mo Bamba and Marcus Morris Sr. taking turns in the backup spot. There's a good chance the Sixers target a more durable stopgap center before Thursday's trade deadline.
It's a waiting game for now. Above all else, however, it's a bitter and disappointing end to what was shaping up to be a historic season. Anybody who accused Embiid of "ducking" the Nuggets game should probably feel a pang of guilt.