The Philadelphia 76ers' worst fears have been confirmed, as rookie center Jahlil Okafor will be forced to miss the rest of this season with a knee injury.
The 76ers confirmed Okafor's status Friday, per the team's director of public relations, Michael Preston. Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports added the Sixers said Okafor suffered a small tear in his right meniscus that will require arthroscopic surgery and is expected to keep him out for six weeks.
Sixers President Sam Hinkie issued a statement regarding the timeline of Okafor's knee problems, per NBA.com:
Jahlil recently started to experience discomfort in his right knee, which we immediately investigated. After a comprehensive series of tests and additional evaluation by our medical team, it was revealed that he has a small tear of the meniscus. Jahlil will undergo a minor arthroscopic procedure to address the injury. Timing and details of the procedure will be finalized in the coming days.
Our medical team will continually monitor and evaluate Jahlil's progress, and we anticipate he will resume full basketball activities in approximately six weeks.
Okafor hasn't played in a game since February 28 because of knee soreness. It's not a new problem for the former Duke star, who was sidelined in the preseason with soreness in his right knee.
The 76ers were careful with Okafor, who has played in 53 of 64 games this season. Philadelphia head coach Brett Brown told Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer on Wednesday that the team would be reviewing Okafor's playing status after receiving results of his CAT scan:
I think everything will be reviewed after we get that information. It's a fair question, but I think it's reckless right now to say what the plan is when we don't know what the information truly is. I think that we might know after the game more. I would imagine we'll know almost everything [Thursday]. But that decision hasn't been discussed.
The good news for Philadelphia is Okafor won't need a long recovery time, even though his rookie season will end prematurely. This is going to cause panic for Sixers fans, who are too familiar with young centers having leg problems as they continue to wait for Joel Embiid to play in a game two years after being drafted.
Okafor was a bright spot for the 76ers this season, leading the team in scoring (17.5 points per game) and ranking second in rebounds (7.0). His health will be critical for the franchise as it looks to build around its young talent moving forward, so shutting him down now is a smart decision for the team.