Saturday, June 21, 2014

Self optimistic about Embiid’s NBA future

Kansas head coach Bill Self slaps hands with center Joel Embiid as he leaves the court following the Jayhawks' 86-64 win over Georgetown on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bill Self slaps hands with center Joel Embiid as he leaves the court following the Jayhawks' 86-64 win over Georgetown on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.


News that former Kansas University center Joel Embiid had successful foot surgery Friday morning certainly brightened the rest of Bill Self’s day.

“I’m glad the doctors said surgery went well. It’s obviously an injury that he should be able to recover from,” Self, who coached the 7-foot Cameroon native for one season at KU, said Friday night.

The surgeon — renowned California orthopedist Dr. Richard Ferkel — said in a statement that “two screws were inserted into the navicular bone in Joel Embiid’s right foot (to repair stress fracture). The surgery went very well and I’m confident that after appropriate healing he will be able to return to NBA basketball. Joel tolerated the surgery without difficulty and will begin his rehabilitation in the near future.”

ESPN and Yahoo Sports estimated Embiid’s recovery time at four to six months.

“You know big guys and their feet I think a lot of time raise a red flag,” Self said, speaking to the Journal-World just a few days before Thursday’s NBA Draft.

“I’m glad they got the surgery done. I’m glad they got it out of the way. Anybody drafting is drafting for long term. I don’t think this should put much of a damper on it (Embiid’s draft stock), but the fact he’s been injured twice in the last three months may be a red flag to some. I can’t believe that would be true enough when you are talking about a kid as talented as Jo,” Self added.

Self hadn’t spoken with Embiid as of early Friday evening.

“I talked to him the day he did it,” Self said. ESPN reported Embiid suffered the injury in the “last few days.”

“He just found out what he had. He didn’t have time to be depressed yet,” Self said.

Embiid was in good spirits before Friday’s procedure. He tweeted a picture of himself wearing a surgical cap and gown with the caption, “Ready.”

After the surgery, Embiid tweeted a picture of himself in an clear oxygen mask with the humorous message, “Can’t even get up for someone who KILLED A LION. I wasn’t even asleep while they were doing the surgery.”

Self heard about the tweets.

“I guess he knows he’s got a pretty big following, so he’s trying to make sure he keeps his fans informed,” Self said with a smile.

As far as the serious issue of whether Embiid will have a successful NBA career following this setback, Self said: “There are some reports that Yao Ming and Bill Walton struggled with it (same injury). You know with Bill ... that’s a different surgery today than it was back in 1978 probably. I can’t believe Jo will have any problem at all.”

Self said he’s confident Embiid, who was sidelined during the NCAA Tournament because of a stress fracture in his back, will hear his name called early in Thursday’s draft.

Cleveland picks No. 1, followed by Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Orlando.

“The difference between 1 and 4 (draft picks) ... I saw somewhere over the first contract is right about $7 million,” Self said. “There’s no question if he doesn’t go as high as he would have ... if the injury drops that, financially it will not be a positive. But he’s still going to make a ton of money. He’s still going to be one of the highest picks. He’s still going to have an opportunity to play to get the second contract, which is more important anyway.”

According to Real GM ... the No. 1 pick in the 2014 Draft will receive $14,393,600 over three years (years 3-5 are option years). The No. 2 pick would receive $12,881,100 over three years; the No. 3 pick $11,567,300 and the No. 4 pick $10,429,200. Dropping down a bit, the No. 10 pick earns $6,262,300 over three years.

“I don’t know. I think Wiggs (Andrew Wiggins) or Jabari Parker will go No. 1. I think Jo still could, but certainly all indications I heard (before injury) were that Joel was probably the percentage play if Cleveland kept the pick,” Self said. “We heard so many rumors about them (Cavaliers) trying to move the pick. I think depending on who is picking, I could see any of the three going one.”

Insurance policy in effect: If Embiid had suffered a career-ending injury, he would have received $5 million thanks to an insurance policy purchased for him by KU through the NCAA’s student-athlete opportunity fund. KU associate AD Jim Marchiony told the Journal-World that Andrew Wiggins also had a $5 million policy.

ESPN’s Darren Rovell indicated the policy, which was purchased through the NCAA’s program, “does not allow for loss-of-value insurance — a rider attached to insurance policies that permits athletes to collect if they fall far enough in the draft from their projected position at the time of signing the policy. Athletes can get loss-of-value policies, but they have to go outside the NCAA program to do so.”

The ESPN article did not specifically state whether Embiid’s agent, Arn Tellem, had purchased value insurance.

Sasha’s stress fracture: Former KU center Sasha Kaun had the same injury as Embiid during his KU career. Kaun told the Journal-World on Friday that rest corrected his foot issue. The 2008 KU grad is still going strong playing professionally in Russia. “It’s still broken, but I can play with it!!” Kaun said in a text message.

Where will Joel go?: Grantland’s Bill Simmons tweeted he’s “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 (No. 6) or L.A. (Lakers, No. 7).” Tellem is under no obligation to share Embiid’s medical reports with teams. He can pick and choose which teams get the reports. It’s also been speculated Boston will not pass on Embiid if he falls to 6.

Team camp: KU basketball is playing host to its annual Team Camp this weekend. Teams from all over the Midwest play games in Allen Fieldhouse and Horejsi Center. Jayson Tatum, a 6-7 junior guard from St. Louis Chaminade, is attending camp. he’s the No. 4-rated player in the recruiting class of 2016 by


John Randall 7 years, 5 months ago

Does this injury lend credence to the idea that Joel would have benefitted from another year in the less stressful college atmosphere?

At his age, how hard is it wise to push his body for rapid development, possibly at the cost of stability? Hobson's choice …

From my POV, greedy as I am, I want his career to last long enough to reach the heights we all anticipate. And I would have been content to wait until he was better prepared for the rigors of the NBA in the low post.

John Pritchett 7 years, 5 months ago

That's what I take away from all this. I know hindsight is 20/20, but it just seems like he got bad advice. The warning signs were there that he was stressing his body too much just after a season at KU. I don't understand the decision to jump into the NBA where it's a job and a much more grueling daily grind. I think the ideal situation would have been for him to return for another season or two where he could continue to condition and prepare himself for the expectations of the NBA. And if things continued to deteriorate with his back and foot, even take a redshirt year to work toward his degree on scholarship. Then, once he's ready, he'd be entering the draft coming off of a successful year as one of KU's premiere players and would be the clear number one pick. As it is, it seems like he's limping, literally and figuratively, into the NBA, and I fear that he'll wash out and end up playing overseas and maybe never reach his potential. It's a shame. I don't understand the rush to turn pro. In some cases, yeah, but Embiid wasn't one of those cases.

Jack Wilson 7 years, 5 months ago

I disagree completely. There is a possibility that this stress fracture in his foot has been present, but not symptomatic, for quite some time. Some folks are fully functional with stress fractures.

It was a very wise roll of the dice to turn pro. Imagine if this thing didn't surface until July? He almost was the number one pick. He almost got there.

Heck, if he would have come back to KU, he could be sitting right now on campus, laid up for 4-6 months. You don't think that thing would have flared up in our scrimmages and other workouts?

Now, he's still going top 10. Imagine if he came back to KU, healed from this and had another stress fracture somewhere else, or worse, in his foot or back?

Given his health issues, turning pro was the wisest thing he could of done. This current injury actually reinforces that decision.

And it may be a blessing -- he could get to the perfect franchise for him. We'll cross our fingers for the young man.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 5 months ago

I agree Jack, it would be interesting to be a fly on the wall when they met with Self and whether they weighed the same options you presented. He will go much higher this year then if he messed around with this injury for a year or had another one somewhere else. He made the right choice.

John Pritchett 7 years, 5 months ago

I don't get this attitude that the goal is to be the number one pick and score that quick cash regardless of the circumstances. Isn't it better for Embiid to transition into the NBA in the best possible way so he can meet his potential as possibly one of the best players ever? I honestly believe Embiid has that potential. It's better to take your time and make sure you're ready before making that jump. He obviously was not ready. So yeah, he almost pulled one over on the NBA and scored a big fat check. And for most players, if you have that shot you go for it. But Embiid isn't most players. For Embiid, rushing into the NBA for a guaranteed paycheck is taking a risk on a much greater future. If Embiid has a reputation, going into the NBA, of being a Greg Oden, and you can't read an article about Embiid without seeing mention of Oden, then what chance will he have to prove people wrong? College would have given him that chance.

What I'm reading here is "Embiid is washed up. He's lucky to get whatever money he can get". I don't buy that. But I fear that perception is going to be reality because in the NBA, he's largely going to be limited by that perception. I've seen it happen too many times.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 5 months ago

The 5 million dollar insurance policy got me thinking about the O'Bannon trial going on about college athletes getting paid. The unknown to me is that we do not know about all the things over and above a scholarship that are provided to our athletes, in all sports. Delany of the B10 made some interesting comments regarding the Rose Bowl and how the elements currently in place will change if players are paid. I not saying that the current rules and stipend amounts should not be reviewed, updated and or replaced, I am saying that if you are going to pay the players than something else has to be affected. It is in a small way what just happened to the students when the Athletic fee was reduced from $25 to $6. College Athletics is a business, a BIG business, but I would feel a lot more hopeful for the correct solution if they were looking at it like that. You cannot Rob Peter to pay Paul and not have consequences. I think they should start with a complete review of rules, aid, etc... And make some common sense changes, like they did recently for meals. Then the conferences should review what and how something could work with sharing the income from athletics with the players. I know this sounds naive but the only one that is going to come out of this happy are going to be the lawyers as this thing is appealed and appealed.

Chad Lee 7 years, 5 months ago

With a chance to go first in the draft it is selfish for some to think he would be better off coming back. Im just hoping he doesn't have any more injuries in the first couple of years. Milk and peanut butter Jo Jo and a lot of them.

Scott MacWilliams 7 years, 5 months ago

I know on the surface this is really bad for Jojo, but for the silver lining, what if he ends up with the Celtics? And has a long and productive career? I would love for him to be in Boston, and I could tolerate LA, too, I guess.

Get well Jojo, and then show those teams who pass on you what a BIG mistake they made. We'll always be rooting for you.

Rock Chalk!!

Steve Kubler 7 years, 5 months ago

Boston would be a great place for Jo Jo. Might be a bit of a slam to go 6 instead of 1 or 2 but getting a team with that kind of history would be a great bonus.

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