EVERYTHING IS INSANITY RIGHT NOW. CHAOS REIGNS. I LOVE DRAFT SEASON.
ESPN has confirmed Joel Embiid has suffered right foot injury. Now the question becomes whether it’s broken: http://t.co/K6lP8x86MT
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) June 19, 2014
Also hearing that Arn Tellem wanted Embiid to go first… but if that can’t happen, he’s going to push hard to steer him to Boston or LA.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) June 19, 2014
There are a ton of things to unpack here, so let’s break them down in bullet points after the break.— Joel Embiid is such an intriguing prospect, he was nearly a consensus number one pick despite having suffered a stress fracture in his back during the college basketball season. He is likely the only true potential franchise talent in this draft class if he reaches his ceiling — a 7’0 rim protector who can also play with his back to the basket and score from mid-range.
— Foot injuries are scary. Back injuries are scary. Foot AND back injuries are terrifying.
— That being said, reports were trickling in that evaluators were becoming less and less concerned that Embiid’s back would be a problem going forward. If these are just two freak, unrelated injuries, one has to wonder whether we might look back on them in five years the way we currently look back at the concerns about Kevin Durant’s subpar benchpress before he was drafted.
— Alternatively, we might look back on them the way we look back on Greg Oden’s red flags, and that’s what has talent evaluators biting their fingernails to the quick at the moment.
— Goodman later tweeted that his upcoming mock draft would now have Jabari Parker going No. 1 to the Cavaliers.
— Agents can “steer” their players toward certain destinations, but it’s much easier to do with international players like Dario Saric, who can threaten to stay in Europe if an undesirable team selects him. Embiid doesn’t have that kind of ammunition. Even if he fell out of the lottery, Orlando and Utah could take him and keep him for four years guaranteed, then sign him for three more. Players virtually never leave their first team before getting truly paid, and Arn Tellem is a top-level agent for a reason. If the Magic or Jazz take Embiid, Tellem is going to be aware that Embiid’s highest earning potential (by far) involves sticking with that squad for seven years. The Magic and Jazz know this too. If they want Embiid, they’ll take him.
— So do they want him? I would say almost certainly, especially Utah. Orlando might hesitate, depending on what role they see Nikola Vucevic playing over the next few years, but even though the Jazz have several young big men, they desperately need a franchise star. In their case, swinging for the fences makes a lot of sense.
— Simmons also reported that this would put a “damper” on Boston’s pursuit of Kevin Love, which is just insanity. I’m so tired of the rampant speculation flying around as well as the games both teams are playing in the media, but if Boston opted to keep an oft-injured big man with no NBA experience over a top-10 player, it would be a massive mistake, even if it worked out for the best.
— HOWEVER: If Embiid fell to the Celtics and the Wolves took the
mediocre collection of assets Denver is allegedly offering, he is the best fit for this team AND the most talented player available. He would absolutely have to be their pick.
So to recap: The only way Embiid becomes a Celtic is if:
1) The Cavaliers were honestly scared off and have no intention of drafting Embiid.
2) The Bucks and Sixers don’t want to risk their hard-won lottery picks on an injury-prone big.
3) Orlando wants Vucevic to play center.
4) Utah drops the ball for some reason.
5) Minnesota doesn’t like Boston’s trade package.
6) Boston doesn’t mind taking the same risk that scared off Milwaukee and Philadelphia.
Essentially, Joel Embiid playing for the Celtics is still unlikely. But as far as long shots go, it’s less of a full-court heave and more of a contested, buzzer-beating 30-footer now.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.