Gratz’s Grumblings: Could Joel Embiid News Be a Smoke Screen?

Sixers fans (the few that actually exist) probably feel like they’ve been punched in the stomach after news broke this past weekend that Joel Embiid’s surgically repaired right foot is healing slower than expected. Nobody really knows what that particularly means other than well….his foot isn’t healing as expected, leaving radio hosts, writers, analysts and sports fans alike only able to speculate about what this might mean for a team whose fan base (again what little base that may be) is running out of patience and faith in the organization and facing extinction nearly as bad as the dinosaurs in Jurassic World.

There’s always a wide spectrum of different thoughts and theories created by fans and media alike, perhaps the most prominent one right now being the possibility of Embiid sitting out another entire season, despite no official word of that being a possibility. While it’s definitely a plausible outcome, could it be possible that the injury might not actually sideline the big man for the second consecutive season? It seems very likely that he won’t be ready for the start of the season, I can concede to that, but what if the Sixers are using this news as a smoke screen, maybe to create mystery about what they’re going to do in the draft?

Prior to the news, it seemed almost universally agreed upon that the Sixers would target a guard, specifically D’Angelo Russell with the 3rd overall pick. Now there’s some speculation about the pick, which could help with its value if they look to trade it or whatever the case may be. For instance, if Towns/ Russell go 1-2, then wouldn’t the pick seem less valuable since their guy was off the board? Now, if that happens and teams think they might need a big man since Embiid’s future is uncertain to say the least, then wouldn’t that would add some value to their pick? I get how this could seem like a stretch, but then why would they announce the news less than 2 weeks before the draft? Let’s be real here this guy is the Sixers prized pick and expected to be a franchise cornerstone for years to come, they probably watch over him like a meshugenah jewish mother and you’re going to tell me that all of a sudden they just found out his foot isn’t healing right? I don’t know, seems a little gefilte fishy to me…

Speaking of smoke screens, I don’t believe (or at least I don’t want to believe) that the Sixers would actually take Kristaps Porzingis with the 3rd pick. Word is that Sam Hinkie loves the Latvian big man, but I don’t think they would actually take him over say Russell/ Mudiay or Okafor. For the record I believe the Sixers should grab whichever best guard is available at 3, whether it be Russell or Mudiay. Russell is obvious but Mudiay would be great too if Russell is gone already, he’s got the size, strength, and maturity it takes to be a great guard in the NBA. He’s cultured and played professionally overseas and got a taste of the physicality and demanding workload the NBA will bring. Yes his shooting needs a lot of improvement, especially his free throw shooting, but his shot is mechanically off which can be coached and fixed by NBA coaching. He’s definitely a risk, but less of a risk then Porzingis and with a center who missed a season already, a Joel Embiid who might not play until who knows when AND already a big man overseas in Saric, the Sixers simply shouldn’t take another risk on a foreign big man.

The bottom line is that there’s a lot of uncertainty in an already murky and mysterious time for the Sixers’ rebuilding plan. If the Embiid news is as grim as people are thinking it could be, it would be simply devastating for Philadelphia’s bastard child of sports teams. But, until we know officially what the damage is, and with another top 3 pick in 10 days, there’s reason to believe it might not be as bleak as it seems.

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