THERE APPEARS to be more going on with Joel Embiid's right foot than the 76ers want to let on.

On June 13 the team released a statement that said, in part, "Joel and Sixers personnel traveled to Los Angeles for a series of routine exams . . . During his visit . . . a standard CT scan on Joel's right foot revealed less healing that anticipated at this point."

On July 11, after the Inquirer reported that the 7-foot center would miss the season due to another surgery, the team came out with a statement acknowledging such.

Now there appears to be a need for more answers. As of Sunday, two sources told the Daily News that the navicular bone has been broken again.

Embiid is scheduled for surgery in the very near future.

"I think this is a very serious situation," a local podiatrist who performs foot surgery said on condition of anonymity. "Any time you have a man that big who has a problem with the navicular bone, it is real cause for concern. Now, if the bone has been broken twice in the span of a year, it raises more red flags.

"Obviously I am not familiar with his case and all cases are different, but I've watched Joel Embiid and he appears to be very flat-footed. That lends to problems with that bone. To definitively say this may be career-threatening, I can't do. But as a specialist and an outsider looking in, there is every reason for serious concern."

The Daily News had a one-on-one interview with president and general manager Sam Hinkie on July 9, in which the first four questions related to the health of Embiid. Hinkie never mentioned surgery but did say the team would give an update in a couple of days. Less than two days later, the news broke that surgery was imminent and Embiid's season was over before it began. The team released a statement later that night.

Making things more curious was that the team's rookie center, Jahlil Okafor, told the Inquirer that he had known about Embiid missing the upcoming season for a couple of weeks.

And now comes word that the tiny bone that is key to the future of the Sixers' organization is broken for the second time in about a year.

When and how this happened is still a mystery. Between the season ended and the June 13 statement, a source said Embiid was working out daily at the team's practice facility. When asked if Embiid was playing five-on-five, the source said that he hadn't, but "only because there weren't enough people to play five-on-five. He was playing very meaningful games of three-on-three and was doing full-court workouts. He is pretty much a full go."

Words used to describe Embiid as a player were "dominant" and "explosive."

Embiid was seen recently at the team's practice facility while players were working out in preparation for the Utah Jazz Summer League. He was not wearing a boot on the foot or limping; he was even taking long shots, though not jumping. Last week he was with the team during the summer league in Las Vegas, again bootless. During one game, according to multiple people, Embiid ran up the steps at the Thomas and Mack Center toward the concourse level, leaving many wondering what exactly is wrong with him.

There are two comparisons often made to Embiid's injury, and they are those of centers Yao Ming and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Yao went through a myriad of injuries after entering the league in 2002, mostly to his left foot. He had to retire after the 2010-11 season, having played just over seven seasons, because his foot could no longer stand the daily pounding of the NBA.

Ilgauskas got hurt early in his second season with the same injury as Embiid, had surgery, missed the entire next season and then came back to play 11 more productive years in the league.

We'll have to wait and see how this plays out for Embiid, who fell to third overall in the 2014 draft after his initial foot surgery was disclosed.

Hinkie has put the organization in a position where a hit this big may be bearable. There is the June drafting of Okafor, who may turn out to be a dominant offensive force. There are the four possible first-round draft picks next year and a ton of money to spend.

Still, Embiid was the building block, and now at least, his immediate future is on hold. How the rest of his career plays out may fully depend on the upcoming surgery.

Blog: ph.ly/Sixerville