There’s the calendar new year.
There’s the lunar new year.
....And there’s the new year that feels like it happens much too much in Philadelphia 76ers land.
It is the day when we ultimately come to hear the news that Joel Embiid will be sidelined with an injury that will cause him to miss an undisclosed amount of time, and we have no clue how he’ll look if and when he returns.
This time, after seemingly forcing himself to play in the game against the Golden State Warriors, after getting cleared to play by the team, and being treated as if he looked fine by the coaching staff, Embiid has now been diagnosed with a meniscus injury.
At the time of this recording, it is unclear if it is a tear or something less severe. One thing is for sure: the big man will be out for some unknown period.
Who’s to blame for all of this?
The answer is the usual cast of characters.
It’s on the Sixers for not putting their foot down and protecting their franchise cornerstone. It was bad enough he was cleared for this game but it’s even worse he was allowed to finish the game the way he was moving before he got landed on by Jonathan Kuminga chasing a loose ball in early February.
It is on Embiid who may have sensed something was wrong but kept pushing to lead a shorthanded squad without Tyrese Maxey and De’Anthony Melton, amid creepy reports that some within the organization believe Jo may have been influenced too much by all the media scrutiny. Should we ask Pop this question?
It is on the NBA for implementing the stupid 65-game minimum rule for in-season awards.
It is on media types like Kendrick Perkins and/or Stephen A. Smith who pushed a narrative one way or another that seems to maybe have gotten in Embiid’s ear.
And we go all the way up the chain to Nick Nurse and Daryl Morey.
There is plenty of blame to go around. It is a potluck of blame, and so many deserve to have a nice big hot slice.
Embiid’s season may (or may not) be over, but the Sixers season continues. His MVP campaign certainly seems to be over.
BUT.... there’s good news. Tyrese Maxey is playing at a (confirmed) All-Star level as the guard has been named to his first All-Star Team, but what does the team do now?
As always, it depends on the doctors’ evaluation of Embiid’s knee to ascertain how serious an injury it is and how much time he will miss. But the 2024 NBA Trade Deadline is next Thursday and they won’t have much time to see how Joel responds to rest and rehab when they field these late-stage trade calls.
The strategies for the season may well have changed with the deadline upon us and the Sixers no longer owning a top-four spot in the Eastern Conference.
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