76ers

Joel Embiid says series vs. Nets is 'over' after Game 4 win

Joel Embiid says series vs. Nets is 'over' after Game 4 win

Don't expect a Warriors-type collapse from the Sixers, according to Joel Embiid.

After making a joke about that possibility after a dramatic Game 4 win at Barclays Center, Embiid was caught stopping at Shake Shack for his postgame meal. 

Like the gentleman in the video asks roughly 9345298570235 times: Is it over?

Well, none of this should come as a surprise. Embiid, who's been dealing with left knee soreness that caused him to miss Game 3, has been physically imposing his will in the games he has played and has now laughed(!) at two postgame press conferences. He's clearly ruffled the Nets' feathers, causing Jared Dudley to charge at him and Brooklyn's GM to burst into the referees locker room postgame.

He's probably right. But you probably don't want to give the Nets any extra fuel for Game 5, but the Sixers have given them plenty throughout the series and here we are at 3-1.

The Sixers are the villains and they don't seem to care. In fact, it seems to be galvanizing them.

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NBA free agency rumors: Jimmy Butler a better fit for Sixers than LeBron James, Lakers

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USA Today Images

NBA free agency rumors: Jimmy Butler a better fit for Sixers than LeBron James, Lakers

Kawhi Leonard’s Game 7 jumper barely took its fourth bounce off the rim and already the offseason rumors are swirling.

On Thursday, we had two different rumors suggest that the Los Angeles Lakers are a strong candidate to land Jimmy Butler. One report included a recruiting pitch by LeBron James and another saying Butler would "join the Lakers in a second if they offered him a max deal." That also aligns with a report from during the season.

But given what the Sixers can offer Butler and James’ contract situation, the Sixers are the better fit.

There are certainly dots that connect Butler with L.A. The fact that the Lakers have the best player in the world in LeBron is obviously appealing. Though the franchise has fallen on rough times, there is a rich history there. Butler reportedly “once imagined” playing for the Lakers and is often seen rocking a Dodgers cap. Butler has also talked about wanting to open his own winery when he retires. L.A. is six hours from Napa Valley, but it’s a lot closer than Philly.

With all that said, the Sixers are still in an advantageous spot. Because they acquired Butler in a trade, they own his Bird Rights. That means they’re the only team that can offer Butler a fifth year on his next contract. Butler has openly stated that he’d like to retire after his age-35 season. With his 30th birthday upcoming, a deal with the Sixers could give him security up until that retirement — and pay him pretty damn handsomely. 

The opportunity to play with James is attractive, but James will be 34 next season and only has two years left on his deal with a player option for a third. With the Sixers, he has two young stars that haven’t even reached their prime and should be in Philadelphia for a long time. While a Butler and James pairing immediately makes the Lakers better, the Sixers were a couple bounces — and perhaps a healthy Joel Embiid — away from being in the Eastern Conference Finals.

“Talking about this roster, we just had a slight hiccup,” Butler said. “But what hurts most about this loss is we had a great group of guys that would ride for one another. It was special. We enjoyed playing with each other. You couldn’t mess with anybody on the team because somebody was always going to be there, in your face. But to think that this roster might not be the exact same next year, that’s what really hurts.”

Beyond money and the opportunity to win, Butler truly emerged as a leader for the Sixers. Given his personality, that seems like something he relishes. Would he have that same leadership opportunity playing with James?

We also can’t underestimate the relationship Butler developed with Brown. Player and coach grew to understand each other. Given Butler’s abrasive personality, that can’t be understated. Will Frank Vogel be able to develop that kind of connection?

While the Sixers look like the better fit, there’s no telling what’s in Butler’s mind and heart. He mentioned during his exit interview how important keeping the people in his inner circle happy is. It’s fair to note that Butler also did forge a bond with player development specialist Remy Ndiaye and player development coach Lindsey Harding, both of whom can be spotted in videos on Butler’s YouTube channel — which is super entertaining, on a side note.

Buckle up, Sixers fans. This is just the beginning of the silly season. Things are going to get weird.

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Joel Embiid snubbed for All-NBA, receives Second Team nod

Joel Embiid snubbed for All-NBA, receives Second Team nod

Another day and another silver medal for Joel Embiid.

The Sixers' All-Star center on Thursday was named Second Team All-NBA a day after getting the same distinction on the All-Defensive team.

The Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic took home First Team honors. Jokic had a terrific season and was a huge part in Denver capturing the West’s second seed, but there’s no way he should have been voted ahead of Embiid. 

Unlike the defensive team, Embiid did receive a respectable 40 first-place votes, but by any metric you measure, Embiid had a better season than Jokic.

Embiid averaged more points (27.5 to 20.1), rebounds (13.6 to 10.8) and blocks (1.9 to 0.7) a game. The only other players to achieve Embiid's numbers since blocks became an official stat are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bob McAdoo and Shaquille O'Neal — all Hall of Famers. But beyond that, Embiid impacts the game on both ends. Jokic’s defense is probably a little underrated, but it’s nowhere near the level of Embiid. Embiid affects more shots at the rim than any player in the NBA, including reigning Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. 

There was an argument made that Embiid needs to play in more games to receive higher accolades. That’s absurd. Gobert played in 56 games last season when he captured DPOY. If you’re going by team record, should Jokic’s three more regular-season wins really count for anything?

It’s fair to note how arbitrary these awards are. Dwyane Wade received a vote for the Second Team while rookie Marvin Bagley received a vote for the Third Team for some insane reason. (On a side note, Ben Simmons did receive seven Third Team votes.)

Still, if you’re the Sixers, you hope it just adds fuel to Embiid’s fire. With criticism about his health, his poor performance in the second round, the Game 7 loss and now not earning First Team All-NBA or All-Defense, there’s plenty there.

If Embiid isn’t motivated this offseason, he may never be motivated.

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