Embiid's injury complicates Sixers' plans

Kansas center Joel Embiid. (Orlin Wagner)


It appears the 76ers will have to trade up in next Thursday's NBA draft or settle for someone other than Kansas swingman Andrew Wiggins. And that someone else just might be a point guard.

That's because all signs now lead to the Sixers' targeted player being gone when they make the third overall pick.

Joel Embiid, the Kansas center who was widely regarded as the front-runner for the No. 1 overall pick, has suffered a stress fracture to the navicular bone in his right foot. He's scheduled to have surgery on Friday, and could be sidelined for up to six months, sources told ESPN.

If Wiggins and Parker go 1-2, who should the Sixers draft third?

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  • 143 (2.4%)
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"Joel will be unable to participate in any additional workouts, and will not attend the draft in New York," Embiid's agent, Arn Tellem, said Thursday in a statement. "We will have no further comment until after the surgery."

Yahoo Sports reported that the injury was discovered when Embiid, who left Kansas after his freshman year, worked out last week for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have the No. 1 pick.

The 7-footer from Cameroon was supposed to work out for the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday. The Bucks, who have the second pick, did not learn of Embiid's injury until Thursday morning.

Embiid's foot injury, coupled with questions regarding his lower back, makes it unlikely the Cavs will take him with the first pick. Wiggins and Duke swingman Jabari Parker, who also left after their freshman campaigns, are receiving serious consideration from the Cavs at No. 1. The Bucks could settle for the swingman Cleveland doesn't draft.

DraftExpress.com projects that Embiid will slide to the Orlando Magic with the fourth pick.

The Sixers may have to give up their third and 10th picks in exchange for the No. 1 selection to secure Wiggins. They weren't willing to do that before Embiid suffered the foot injury.


Could MCW be dealt?

All this news came on a day when Yahoo Sports reported that the Sixers are "intrigued" with drafting a point guard.

The report said the Sixers are paying close attention to Australia's Dante Exum and Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State and trying to get another draft pick to sandwich between their third and 10th selections in the first round.

The Sixers have been rumored to be shopping point guard Michael Carter-Williams in a trade. They could package the rookie of the year in a deal that would enable them to get another first-round pick.

The Los Angeles Lakers, who pick seventh, could be a possible trade partner.

Several mock drafts have the Lakers taking Smart. Looking to get back to the postseason, the Lakers might not have the patience to go through Smart's expected growing pains. They're in search of an all-star-caliber point guard to play alongside Kobe Bryant.

With Carter-Williams coming off a strong rookie season, this could be the best time for the Sixers to move him. Especially if his value is at its peak.

It would be a reach to pick Smart at No. 3. However, Exum and Indiana power forward Noah Vonleh suddenly become serious candidates at that spot. Vonleh worked out for the Sixers on Thursday.

Weeks ago, Embiid was said to be 100 percent over the stress fracture in his lower back that kept him out of the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments. He wowed NBA executives and coaches in a private workout in Santa Monica, Calif., in late May.

But there were conflicting reports out of Cleveland last week about the physical he took for the Cavs. Now, the one-time, can't-miss No. 1 pick might have the Sixers altering their draft plans.