Visionary or delusionary, smarter than everyone else or lost in his own theories, Philadelphia 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie’s reign has hit a crossroads with the recent revelation that Joel Embiid will miss his second straight season because of a faulty right foot.
The team’s announcement that the talented center, the No. 3 overall pick in 2014, will miss yet another year because of improper healing of his navicular bone was followed by a damning Philadelphia Daily News report. According to two sources quoted in the story, Embiid actually refractured the bone somehow, pushing Hinkie’s reviled tanking strategy even further into the murk.
Embiid, Nerlens Noel and that Croatian ghost, Dario Saric, may all be on the cusp of 30 by the time Hinkie’s plan reaches maturity. But as one league source told the Herald last week, any number of teams could have been on the hook for this calamity, including the Celtics.
Danny Ainge eventually took Marcus Smart with the sixth pick in the 2014 draft, and the Celts are more than satisfied with the progress of their point guard. But had Embiid slid to No. 6, there’s a good chance the Celtics would have jumped despite existing information about navicular bone fractures.
That’s the injury that ultimately derailed the careers of Yao Ming, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and the player with the most treated foot in NBA history, Bill Walton. Ilgauskas returned for a longer career than the other two, but was the picture of immobility by the end.
No matter. After Embiid had foot surgery six days before that draft, and just before Philadelphia gulped hard and took him with the third pick, the Celtics had three candidates on their list — Embiid, Arizona forward Aaron Gordon and Smart.
Embiid went third, Gordon went fourth to Orlando, Dante Exum went fifth to Utah, and the Celtics felt very comfortable about drafting Smart sixth.
Had Embiid slid to No. 6, though, there’s a good chance he would have donned green.
“(The Celtics) did have the go-ahead from their medical staff to make that pick,” said the source. “They weren’t going to say no to him.
“He had a lot of little things wrong in his medical report, but nothing that anyone thought was going to get in the way of his career. …Read More