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Joel Embiid: ‘I just want to win a championship... whether it’s in Philly or anywhere else’

Joel Embiid

Joel Embiid

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Joel Embiid is the most important person for Philadelphia in any James Harden trade — Daryl Morey and the 76ers need to keep the reigning MVP happy. Which means on a contender.

As a shot across the bow of the front office, Embiid recently said in an interview with Maverick Carter that he wants to win a ring “whether it’s in Philly or anywhere else.” This a comment that perked up a few ears in Philadelphia.

“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 to accomplish that. I wanna see what it feels like to win that first one and then think about the next one. It’s not easy, but it takes more than one, two, three guys. You gotta have good people around you.”

Let’s break this down:

• This was not a trade request or anything of the sort from Embiid; this was more of a warning. The message to the 76ers front office was clear — don’t screw this up.
• From its end, Philadephia is nowhere close to even considering a Joel Embiid trade. This is not even a discussion. End of story. Embiid has three more seasons on his current contract (followed by a player option), meaning there is no pressure on the Sixers from that front. Yet.
• However, every GM in the league has a “keep an eye on this superstar” list, guys where the situation is being monitored because they may become frustrated and want out down the line. Embiid has been on that list for a while (Luka Dončić and Giannis Antetokounmpo are also on those lists, fair or not).
• Embiid has never led the 76ers past the second round of the playoffs. Some of the blame for that falls on him — and some unlucky injuries — but some of it is on the rosters built around him.
• Which brings us back to the James Harden trade rumors. Morey reportedly has a sky-high asking price, but part of the reason is that he can’t take back future assets and picks, he needs quality players who can win now — Embiid is in his prime and that can’t be wasted. In any Harden trade, the Sixers need a player or players who move them closer to a title. If not, they can wait and hope — along with Embiid — that Harden comes to training camp willing to play and not be a disruptive force.
• However, if the Harden trade goes sideways and Embiid gets frustrated, well, that’s why he’s on all those other GMs’ lists.