Kerr on Embiid and Paris Olympics: 'Our fingers are crossed he'll be healthy this summer'

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Indiana Pacers
NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Indiana Pacers

It's more than just the Philadelphia 76ers and their fans hoping Joel Embiid can bounce back relatively quickly from his knee surgery this week and return to his dominant, MVP form.

So does USA Basketball.

Embiid committed to play for Team USA in the Paris Olympics this summer, but his surgery jeopardizes that. Embiid will be re-evaluated by 76ers doctors in a month, with hopes he can return before the end of the season. However, whether he bounces back that fast and will be able — or still willing — to play in the 2024 Olympics will hinge on how well that recovery goes.

USA Basketball head coach Steve Kerr said he has texted Embiid this week to wish him well with his recovery.

"Our fingers are crossed he'll be healthy this summer and able to play," Kerr said, via the Associated Press. "He's an amazing player and we're really excited to have him be part of the program."

One of the challenges for Team USA in recent major international competitions has been matching up with physical, elite centers who fit the international game, such as Nikola Jokic or Kristaps Porzingis. Embiid — who announced he would play in Paris for Team USA, picking his current home over past ones France and Cameroon — would change that dynamic.

"There's not a whole lot we can do about it," Kerr said before his Warriors faced an Embiid-less 76ers team (and won by 23). "We're hoping that he's healthy and ready to go. If not, we'll have to replace him."

There are other quality centers in the USA Basketball pool of players for the Paris Games: Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers), Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat), Jarrett Allen (Cleveland Cavaliers), and Chet Holmgren (Oklahoma City Thunder). However, none of them has the combination of touch, physicality, and defense that Embiid brings to the table. Team USA could really use Embiid.

Which is why everyone at USA Basketball has their fingers crossed.