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Joel Embiid, once believed to go first in the draft to the Cleveland Cavaliers, suffered a stress fracture in the navicular bone of his foot and had surgery on June 20 to repair it. The injury dropped Embiid out of contention for the number one overall pick, but the Philadelphia 76ers didn’t let him slip too far on draft night, picking him third overall.
It was originally reported that Embiid would miss four-to-six months, but Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie now states that the recovery time is somewhere between five-to-eight. This means that Embiid could be healthy as early as December, or as late as March next year. While this is discouraging for Sixer fans, the team is more interested in Embiid’s long-term production, rather than what he can add to the team next season.
This is the same injury that derailed the careers of Bill Walton and Yao Ming, and the Sixers want to make sure Embiid’s foot heals properly, and doesn’t jeopardize his career. This means that Embiid won’t suit up for a game until the team is convinced that he is 100 percent healthy, similar to how they handled Nerlens Noel’s situation last season.
Embiid projects to be a two-way center, and a potential star, drawing comparisons to former Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon. While that comparison may be unfair to Embiid, it shows how highly some scouts regard his overall game. Hopefully Embiid can make a full recovery and live up to his massive potential.
A few days ago, it was reported that Randolph and the Grizzlies had engaged in negotiations to extend Randolph and keep him in Memphis for a few more seasons. Randolph has been vocal about his love for the city of Memphis and the team, and is now set to be there for at least the next three seasons. Randolph opted in to the last year of his current contract, worth $16.5 million and agreed to a two-year extension worth $20 million.
At almost age 33, Randolph is still one of the most productive big men in the league, averaging 17.4 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 46.7 percent shooting from the field. Randolph’s game complements center Marc Gasol’s well and creates one of the toughest front-court duos in the league.
While Randolph could start to decline over the life of the contract, he has had some of the best seasons of his career with the Grizzlies, and has earned the respect and admiration of the team’s fan base.
As expected, the Phoenix Suns officially extended qualifying offers to Eric Bledsoe and P.J. Tucker, making each player a restricted free agent. Bledsoe contributed 17.7 points, 5.5 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals last season and is likely to receive significant offers from teams looking for a young, long-term solution at point guard. The Suns are reportedly willing to match any offer Bledsoe receives, even if it is a max-deal.
Bledsoe is one of the most athletic point guards in the league, and is strong enough to defend shooting guards as well. He has struggled with knee injuries throughout his short career, and only played in 43 games this season in Phoenix. Still, Bledsoe returned from a torn meniscus last season and showed that he still has all the explosiveness he had prior to the injury.
Tucker is also looking for a new contract this offseason. Last season, Tucker blossomed into a tough defender, fierce competitor and dependable three-point shooter (38.7 percent from three-point range). He was one of the best bargains in the league last season, making just $884,293. While Phoenix clearly wants Tucker back, they will likely let him move on if another team offers him a contract worth more than the Suns are comfortable matching. Unlike Bledsoe, Tucker is a bit older (29 years old) and does not have the same room to continue developing his game. Also, the Suns selected T.J. Warren, a high scoring forward with the 14th overall pick. Warren could likely fill in for Tucker if he leaves, though Warren is not an effective three-point shooter at this point.
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