76ers' Joel Embiid (foot) to play with restrictions in 2016-17

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid has recovered from foot injuries and should be ready to play when the team opens training camp in two weeks.

Embiid, the No. 3 pick in the 2014 draft, has yet to make his NBA debut because of two surgeries on his right foot that stunted his progress and put a serious crimp in Philadelphia's rebuilding process.

Coach Brett Brown said Embiid, a 7-foot center out of Kansas, will play this season with yet-to-be-determined restrictions to ease him into the NBA. One such condition could include holding him out on the second night of back-to-back games.

Embiid, 22, has wowed the organization in private workouts since the end of last season and his potential has Brown excited that the Sixers -- coming off a 10-win season -- have found their cornerstone center.

"He needs to be the crown jewel, the centerpiece of our defense," Brown said.

Embiid broke his right foot during a pre-draft workout in 2014 and sat out last season when he needed a second surgery because the foot had not healed. Because of his injury history, Brown said Thursday he could not say for certain that Embiid would start opening night Oct. 26 against Oklahoma City.

The Sixers open training camp Sept. 27.

"Joel is on track to play," Brown said Thursday. "We will learn more about the restrictions that will come his way. What I see so far gives us great reason to be extremely excited."

Embiid has played very little competitive basketball in his life and has been inactive since the end of his lone season at KU. He grew up playing soccer and volleyball, and only decided to pursue basketball at the end of high school. He started to blossom as a senior at The Rock School and ultimately chose to attend Kansas, where he arrived with less fanfare than fellow freshmen Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Selden.

Embiid hurt his back while landing awkwardly during a game late in the season, and missed the Jayhawks' final two regular-season games and the Big 12 tournament. He also missed a victory over Eastern Kentucky and a season-ending loss to Stanford in the NCAA tournament, after which he said that he would have been able to play had Kansas advanced to the second weekend.

Everyone is still waiting for his return.

"I think that the path has unfolded, sort of organically, with the injury, then the setback and now here he is. I think we could look back and say in an inverted, twisted type way, it has provided him a layer of growth," Brown said. "I think he sees the world a little bit differently in relation to taking things far more seriously professionally. I see a more mature Joel Embiid today."