On Wednesday, Philadelphia 76ers' beat writer Tom Moore broke the news that Joel Embiid would continue rehabbing his broken right foot at Aspetar, an orthopaedic and sports medicine hospital located in Doha, Qatar.
At his annual post-trade deadline news conference on Friday, Sixers' general manager Sam Hinkie explained that Embiid's trip had been in the planning stages for six months, and that the 7-2 center would undergo a "fairly intense" program for a few days before returning to the States.
Translation: No Shirley Temples.
There's the obvious question, of course: With all of the world-class facilities available in the United States, why does Embiid need to travel nearly 7,000 miles as he works to recover from a surgically-repaired navicular bone?
For starters, Aspetar isn't your typical medical center. On Friday, Hinkie stated that the Qatar hospital is "world-renowned and known for having some of the best sports medicine docs, rehab specialists, orthopedic surgeons, sports psychologists, and dieticians; the whole gamut, sort of soup-to-nuts."
Aspetar is the official sports medicine partner for French soccer club Paris Saint-Germain, and the center's Web site is filled with testimonials from high-profile athletes such as Yaya Toure, Lennox Lewis, Novak Djokovic and Allyson Felix.
More importantly, the Sixers were able to work with Aspetar's staff to develop a custom-designed plan that "kicks off" the next phase of Embiid's rehab. And, for what it's worth, one of the experts the Sixers reached out to prior to Embiid's second surgery hails from Qatar, so it's likely that the physician in question had a hand in crafting Embiid's rehab program.
"He's done a great job," said Hinkie when asked about Embiid's commitment to his recovery protocol thus far. "He's been super professional. He's brought a whole new level of maturity to the game and to his rehab and his day-to-day approach."
Hinkie: "We're excited about (Embiid). He has a rare gift and has a real chance to have a fantastic NBA career."— Bob Cooney (@BobCooney76) February 19, 2016
Despite the positive progress reports, the Sixers still intend to keep Embiid under wraps until training camp.
"We haven't talked about it in great detail, but if I had to guess, I doubt [that Embiid would participate in summer league]," said Hinkie. "I don't see us... we definitely wouldn't push him to be ready in July. And I'm not sure it would make a whole lot of sense at the end of the day."