‘Fingers are crossed:’ Team USA coach Steve Kerr hopeful for Joel Embiid’s availability at Paris Olympics

The 76ers suffered a significant blow when star center Joel Embiid went down with a knee injury against the Warriors last week.

The MVP candidate has been diagnosed with a “displaced flap of the meniscus in his left knee” and underwent a “procedure” to address the situation on Feb. 6. He is expected to be evaluated in approximately four weeks.

That is, of course, season-altering news for Philadelphia. There hasn’t been much discussion about how it could affect his availability for Team USA at the Paris Olympics this summer, though.

Ahead of Golden State’s matchup against the 76ers on Wednesday, Warriors and Team USA head coach Steve Kerr said, “Our fingers are crossed that he will be able to play for us,” adding that it’s always disappointing to see elite players miss time and he hopes he can get back on the court soon, per ESPN’s Tim Bontemps.

Is it realistic to think Embiid will be ready to suit up for the Olympics? The Sporting News takes a closer look at how the schedule could line up below.

MORE: Expert medical analysis on Joel Embiid’s injury and road to recovery

Will Joel Embiid play for Team USA at Paris Olympics?

One step at a time, but it’s not farfetched to think that even if Embiid can get healthy enough to return for the 76ers’ playoff push in 2024, he might need to take the summer off to recover.

Embiid’s knee injury is expected to sideline him for at least one month. There are two months until the start of the NBA playoffs and five months until USA Basketball reports for training camp, which is typically the first week in July.

Team USA’s first exhibition contest is set for July 10 against Canada.

Embiid’s availability will be determined by how his knee responds, but it could also very well depend on how far Philadelphia goes in the playoffs. While it is too soon to tell if the star center will return at all this season, one thing we know for sure is that the NBA Finals will end a couple of weeks before USA Basketball training camp starts.

If the 76ers are eliminated from the playoffs in the first or second round, that could afford Embiid some extra time off before Team USA’s camp starts. If he’s back, healthy, and leads them on a deep playoff run, it might be in his best interest to rest up and make sure he’s ready for the start of the 2024-25 NBA season.

There is no way of knowing a concrete answer until we see how Embiid’s knee injury recovery plays out, though.

MORE: The widespread impact of Joel Embiid’s meniscus injury

Joel Embiid’s commitment to Team USA

Back in October, for the first time in his career, Embiid committed to playing for Team USA.

As Embiid mentioned in his post, he had the option to play for Cameroon, France, or the United States. His decision ultimately came down to his son, who was born in the United States.

“But most of all, I want to honor my son who was born in the US. I want my boy to know I played my first Olympics for him.”

Embiid’s commitment was enormous for Team USA, filling a longstanding void at the center position over the last couple of international tournaments. Now, because of his injury, the United States may have to go back to the drawing board to shore up its frontcourt at the Paris Olympics.

Team USA player pool for 2024 Paris Olympics

Embiid’s name was one of the standouts from the Team USA player pool announced in January.

Below you can find the full 41-man pool that will compete for a roster spot at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Player Position Team
Bam Adebayo C Heat
Jarrett Allen C Cavaliers
Paolo Banchero F Magic
Desmond Bane G Grizzlies
Scottie Barnes F Raptors
Devin Booker G Suns
Mikal Bridges F Nets
Jaylen Brown F Celtics
Jalen Brunson G Knicks
Jimmy Butler F Heat
Alex Caruso G Bulls
Stephen Curry G Warriors
Anthony Davis F Lakers
Kevin Durant F Suns
Anthony Edwards G Timberwolves
Joel Embiid C 76ers
De’Aaron Fox G Kings
Paul George F Clippers
Aaron Gordon F Nuggets
Tyrese Haliburton G Pacers
James Harden G Clippers
Josh Hart F Knicks
Tyler Herro G Heat
Jrue Holiday G Celtics
Chet Holmgren C Thunder
Brandon Ingram F Pelicans
Kyrie Irving G Mavericks
Jaren Jackson Jr. F Grizzlies
LeBron James F Lakers
Cam Johnson F Nets
Walker Kessler C Jazz
Kawhi Leonard F Clippers
Damian Lillard G Bucks
Donovan Mitchell G Cavaliers
Chris Paul G Warriors
Bobby Portis F Bucks
Austin Reaves G Lakers
Duncan Robinson F Heat
Jayson Tatum F Celtics
Derrick White G Celtics
Trae Young G Hawks

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