76ers

Sixers teammates believe Joel Embiid is worth every penny

Sixers teammates believe Joel Embiid is worth every penny

BOSTON — Joel Embiid didn't have to be in the building to be the topic of conversation.

The Sixers reacted strongly to his new deal — a five-year, $148 million extension, per a league source (see story) — before their game against the Celtics.

Embiid trained in Philadelphia on Monday and will rejoin the team tonight. Here's what his teammates had to say before they could even say congrats in person.

Ben Simmons
“He’s a beast. As soon as he hits that court, I can’t name one person who’s going to stop him. Honestly, there’s nobody that can compete with him in his position. There’s no one.” 

Jahlil Okafor
“He deserves it. I’m really happy for him. It wasn’t a surprise to me. You’ve seen how good of a player he is. He’s an even better person.” 

T.J. McConnell
“I don’t think anyone is more deserving after what they’ve been through. To go through two injuries back-to-back years and then come out and do what he did last year, he deserves every single dollar of that ...

“It’s a sense of relief and security. You don’t want a guy like that to go anywhere else. I know the city is really excited. He’s pretty much the go-to guy, the man, and we love having him.” 

Dario Saric 
“For sure he deserves that money. He’s the guy. Everybody knows he will bring us to another level. I cannot wait to see him on the court, to play, to show who we really are. In those 31 games, he showed good talent. He means a lot for our team. I hope he will stay healthy. If he stays healthy, this team is totally different.”

Nik Stauskas 
“Very well-deserved. Obviously there are going to be people who question it just because he hasn’t played that many games. But for us to see him in practice and saw him over those [31] games he played last year, if he’s able to stay healthy, I think he’s worth every single penny.

“We all believe he can be one of the best players in the world. He has a physical skill set in terms of strength and size that not many people in this league have. He also has a jump shot, he has a handle, he has a touch around the rim that not many big men have. Just really a special combination.”

Robert Covington
“Hey, get that bag. Get that bag. He deserves it. Definitely [when] a healthy player, he’s one of the best players in this league without a doubt.”

Richaun Holmes
“He’s great on both ends of the floor. He’s a great player. He just affects the game in so many different ways. [He] can dominate, give us the guy to throw the ball in the post, anchor the defense. It’s going to do nothing but make us so much better.”

Is Joel Embiid's trash talking starting to get old?

Is Joel Embiid's trash talking starting to get old?

Each week, our resident basketball analysts will discuss some of the hottest topics involving the Sixers.

Running the Give and Go this edition are NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com producer/reporters Matt Haughton and Paul Hudrick.

In this edition, we examine whether Joel Embiid’s trash talking is starting to get old.

Haughton
Absolutely not.

First, look at it from a team perspective. The Sixers thrive off of Embiid’s emotion. Look no further than Friday night’s triple-overtime thriller against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Sixers were sleepwalking through that game for much of the night until Embiid mixed it up with Carmelo Anthony following an and-one with a few minutes left in the fourth quarter. Embiid got the crowd juiced up and his teammates fed off that energy during the critical 11-0 run to close out regulation.

When Embiid’s trash talk spills over to social media, he does try to keep things light and playful. That’s his personality and that’s his realm, so none of what he’s doing really comes from a position of genuine malice.

On the bigger scale, this is what the NBA has been about long before Embiid came along. From Larry Bird’s bravado to Michael Jordan’s ruthlessness to Shaquille O’Neal’s blatant disrespect of opponents, the league has a long list of trash talkers.

As LeBron James said when the Cavaliers came through the Wells Fargo Center right after Thanksgiving, players today are just too sensitive.

Hudrick
Let’s just let Joel be Joel.

The guy came over from Cameroon, knowing very little about the game and getting teased by his teammates in high school. After overcoming that and landing at Kansas, injuries took away the end of his only season there and then his first two NBA seasons. He was the brunt of jokes as the Sixers continued to lose and he had to watch from afar. He’s earned the right to feel himself a little bit.

What I see is a kid having fun. I have to give Philly fans credit. Flamboyant characters don’t usually do well here. In a city that (still) obsesses over the play of a quiet, hard-nosed guy like Chase Utley and has fallen head over heels for the humbleness of Carson Wentz, Embiid doesn't fit the mold. But he's been embraced and beloved.

Here’s the other thing: he’s backing it up. If he was out there talking trash but shooting 30 percent from the field and not running down the reigning MVP for a blocked shot in a triple-OT game, that would be a different story. He’s put this team on his back and has them poised for a playoff berth.

Let the man live.

'Dots don't connect' for Sixers on inbound confusion

'Dots don't connect' for Sixers on inbound confusion

Of all the scenarios that transpired over the Sixers’ triple-overtime loss to the Thunder on Friday, there is one moment that stands out.

Fast-forward to the end of the second overtime. The Sixers had the opportunity to take the final shot after Dario Saric grabbed a defensive rebound. Joel Embiid motioned for a timeout before Saric put the ball on the floor. 

The Sixers huddled and prepared for a half-court play they had practiced before, confident they could execute it with 1.2 seconds on the game clock.

However, as they went to set up, the officials told them the inbound was actually full court. Saric had dribbled the ball before the timeout was called, they were told. That change wiped out the play they had initially planned. 

“They asked us what side of the floor did we want to advance it to, and so we told them,” Brett Brown said. “We drew up a play to try to score. Then we walked out and they said no you can’t advance it, it goes full court. When you look at the tape, you can see Joel and myself calling a timeout with 1.2 seconds. They said Dario dribbled, yet there were still 1.2 seconds. The dots don’t connect.”

The last-second shift in inbound position left the Sixers scrambling. Embiid said the team was “caught off guard.” Ben Simmons considered the call to be “huge.” 

“We weren’t told that we couldn’t progress the ball up the floor until we actually had to run the play,” Simmons said. “That kind of messed us up. We got into a late play, which didn’t convert.” 

The Sixers didn’t connect on their final possession. There’s no guarantee the shot would have gone in, but they would have been prepared to get a good look. 

“[It changed] everything,” Robert Covington said. 

Instead of pulling off a last-second game-winner, the Sixers went into triple overtime. They were edged out by two points, 119-117 (see game recap)

"That kind of like messed up in our minds, but that’s not an excuse," Embiid said. "We shouldn’t have an excuse for losing that game."