Report: Embiid has torn meniscus, is debating surgery vs. rest, rehab

NBA: Houston Rockets at Philadelphia 76ers

NBA: Houston Rockets at Philadelphia 76ers

Joel Embiid has a torn left lateral meniscus — a displaced flap — and he is debating surgery vs. a program of rest and rehab, according to a report from Shams Charania and Joe Varden of the Athletic.

Embiid, his doctors and the 76ers are continuing to discuss whether the best course of action is to rest and rehab the injury or to undergo a procedure that would require him to miss extended time.

The 76ers are still officially calling it a meniscus “injury” and said a course of treatment — and a timeline for a return — would be decided over the weekend (the team refused to comment on Saturday). However, the time the 76ers have taken with this situation has implied something more serious, such as a tear.

The treatment for a tear depends on its size and location on the meniscus, although one doctor NBC Sports spoke with said a “displaced flap” is almost always treated with surgery to repair it (he, however, was not involved with this case nor has he seen the MRI). The report that the 76ers and Embiid are considering “rest and rehab” suggests this might not be a tear as described in the report. Embiid has had surgery previously on his left lateral meniscus, which is one of the shock absorbers of the knee and is critical for weight bearing and movement.

If it is a displaced flap, surgery to repair it likely would be the next step. A repair essentially stitches up the tear, keeping the meniscus intact, and that is considered better for the knee long term but comes with a lengthy recovery time — Embiid’s season likely would be over. Sometimes, a tear can be treated with a surgical “trim” that removes the area around the tear, with the healing coming more quickly (six weeks or so).

Expect an official announcement in the coming days.

Whatever the decision, Embiid’s quest to repeat as NBA MVP has come to an end. He’s already missed enough games (13) that voters would have to take it into account, but add in this time missed for recovery and he will not play in 65 games, the threshold to qualify for postseason awards under the NBA’s new player participation policy. This is more than Embiid not winning MVP, is also now out of the running for All-NBA or Defensive Player of the Year.

Embiid had been the MVP frontrunner, averaging a league-best 35.3 points per game with 11.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 1.8 blocks a night.

Embiid had been battling knee issues for a few games — missing out on facing Nikola Jokic in Denver — but tried to come back and play against the Warriors a few days later. Embiid was clearly in some pain, he was slow and not himself, and that was before Jonathan Kuminga fell on his left knee going for a loose ball. It’s not known if that collision caused the injury or exacerbated an existing situation.

The cause of the injury matters less now than the next step and how long Embiid will be out. We should learn that officially in the next few days.