Joel Embiid uttering the three words “or anywhere else” when addressing wanting to win an NBA championship may have given Philadelphia 76ers fans something else to worry about while getting ready for this season.
Joel Embiid on his future aspirations:
“I just want to win a championship. Whatever it takes. I don’t know where that’s gonna be. Whether it’s in Philly or anywhere else. I just want to have a chance.”
The pressure is officially on for the Sixers to capitalize on their win-now… pic.twitter.com/deL8Eip5jP
— Evan Sidery (@esidery) July 17, 2023
This isn’t the first time this offseason Embiid has been linked to a possible departure from Philadelphia. The New York Knicks reportedly were hopeful that things would get so bad for the 76ers that the 2023 NBA MVP would eventually ask to leave.
So far this offseason, Philadelphia has fired head coach Doc Rivers, replaced him with Nick Nurse and dealt with a possible trade of James Harden, who after being torn between the Sixers and Houston Rockets now reportedly could wind up with the Los Angeles Clippers.
This all follows Philadelphia’s latest disappointing playoff exit. The 76ers held a 3-2 series lead against the Boston Celtics in the second round of the playoffs last season but then lost Game 6 at home and Game 7 by 24 points. Philadelphia has not reached the Eastern Conference Finals with Embiid and is 0-5 in second-round series since his NBA debut in 2016.
Embiid won NBA MVP honors last season for the first time, averaging 33.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.7 blocks per game. He played 66 regular season games, the second-highest total of his career after playing 68 in the 2021-22 season.
Perhaps the 29-year-old is just sending the 76ers front office a message that it needs to get its act together. This offseason, the 76ers have added Patrick Beverley, Mo Bamba and Montrezl Harrell on one-year contracts, which is unlikely to get them over the hump even if they keep Harden. Tyrese Maxey also has been mentioned in trade rumors surrounding Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers.
It also is unclear how Embiid will react to Nurse as his head coach after playing for Rivers the past three seasons.
Sixers fans waited patiently for Embiid to arrive in the NBA after he was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft and have watched them fall short in the playoffs multiple times.
If Embiid were to depart without ending the 76ers’ 40-year championship drought, they would have to seriously wonder if the whole process was worth it.