Sixers 'hope' Joel Embiid can return from knee injury this season

Entering Friday, the Philadelphia 76ers were 4-12 this season in games without reigning MVP Joel Embiid.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia 76ers president Daryl Morey expressed hope Friday that NBA MVP Joel Embiid will return from a knee injury.

„We're optimistic,” Morey said before the 76ers hosted the Atlanta Hawks, three days after Embiid underwent surgery on his left knee. „Since we first heard about what led up to his practice, the feedback has been more good than bad. So, we're optimistic and building the team to do better this year. Obviously, it's not 100 percent. But because Joel played at an MVP level, he can get it back. This year We have a real shot.

Asked if his approach would have been different depending on the news of Embiid's injury, Morey was clear.

„If Joel didn't have faith, I think that would have changed things dramatically,” Morey said. „We're very confident. Of course, it's not 100 percent. It's something that is unfortunately less than 100 percent. But we thought it was right.

“There are many ways to not win the title. Winning the title is difficult; One way to not win the title this year is mostly because Joel doesn't come back. … But you always want to be one of the best teams, and that means taking risks before injury, and that's where we are right now.

Embiid, who averaged 35.3 points and 11.3 rebounds in 39 games, missed the last five games after Golden State forward Jonathan Kuminga fell on his left leg and suffered a meniscus injury that required surgery on Tuesday. An initial statement from the 76ers said Embiid would be „re-evaluated” in four weeks. Before that, Embiid sat out Philadelphia's two previous games with left knee inflammation.

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Morey declined to describe the exact procedure Embiid performed, which would have provided a clue to the injury's significance.

Morey said he's looking to fill Embiid's shoes and upgrade the team's backup center position from Paul Reed. He was shocked that no 'big' things were dealt with before the trade deadline.

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