Though it may not be a popular decision among the ticket-purchasing public, the Sixers should officially shut down rookie center Joel Embiid for the remainder of the ’16-17 season.

This may well already be the team’s plan after they announced that Embiid was out indefinitely due to swelling in his injured left knee after he missed the entirety of the month of February due to a torn Meniscus in the same knee. And if it isn’t, it should be.

Aside from continued on-court experience for their franchise player and a more entertaining product in the short-term, there is little for the Sixers to gain by playing Embiid again this season – and a decent amount of risk.

The playoff pipe dream – fueled largely by Embiid’s own comments - has died, and with just 20-some odd games remaining on the schedule, the best course of action for the franchise is to maximize their lottery odds and aim to add one more top-tier talent to their current cache of young potential building blocks. Embiid out of the lineup would certainly help in this area.

With the prospects of a healthy Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid – along with other additions - an ascension up the Eastern Conference standings is expected for the Sixers next season. Meaning that – for now – the team has one last opportunity for a high lottery landing of their own volition before such finishes become the antithesis of the organizational goal. With the 2017 Draft stacked with guard talent, it is again time for the Sixers to embrace the opportunity to greatly bolster their roster for the future.

Additional opportunity for some of the team’s more unproven players – namely Jahlil Okafor and Richaun Holmes is another obvious silver lining of an extended Embiid absence. In Embiid, the Sixers now know what they have (when he’s healthy) – a dominant two-way center capable of being the foundation of the franchise.

Larger questions about future fit and overall ability remain with fellow big men Okafor and Holmes however, as both have been on the receiving end of inconsistent opportunity throughout the season.  The remainder of this campaign’s docket could go a long way in providing some further clarification regarding the two big men, while also serving as a showcase for a potential future trade.

Also, by playing Embiid again after an extended stint on the sideline, the Sixers run the risk of re-injury in what amounts to a virtually meaningless game. With so much of the franchise’s future riding on Embiid, there’s simply no reason to risk that.

After such an electric start to Embiid’s first season, to see him end it again stuck on the sideline in a suit would be a bit of a disappointment. However, the Sixers have been working toward fortifying the future for years now, and the decision to shut down Embiid for the remainder of the season would just be another move in that vein. With that sustainably competitive future that the team has been striving toward finally on the horizon, there’s no reason to abandon patience now.

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