76ers

Joel Embiid tries to clear things up with Sixers fans

Joel Embiid tries to clear things up with Sixers fans

Joel Embiid grabbed the offensive rebound and guided the ball through the hoop for the Sixers' first basket of the game. He heard the official's whistle, raised his arms and, with a mischievous smile, soaked in the adoration of the Wells Fargo Center crowd. It seemed everything was back to normal — if it had ever not been. 

In the Sixers’ 110-103 win over the Clippers on Tuesday night, Embiid had 26 points and nine rebounds. The perpetual drama around Embiid’s interactions with Sixers fans, though, was a prominent sideshow to the game itself.

After the win, Embiid had no reluctance in telling his side of the story. The night before, he’d taken to social media, using a Batman quote to spark consternation among fans. The night before that, he’d shushed the crowd after making a game-sealing three-pointer against the Bulls and said he was “just being a good a--hole.” 

If one hadn’t been following it all closely, it might have been difficult to discern Embiid’s precise stance or feelings. He tried to clear things up Tuesday.

They’ve been going at me,” he said of Sixers fans. “I went back at them. We’re all human beings. If I can take it, then everybody else can take it, too. We learn from it, we move on. I’ve gotta do a better job, they’ve gotta do a better job. I understand where they come from, but then again, if you dish it, you’ve gotta be able to take it back. 

“But at the end of the day … it’s all love. I love my city. I’ve been here for a long time now. We have a special relationship. I’m happy to be here and I can’t wait for the future, especially this year. I think we can accomplish something great.”

Embiid initially feigned ignorance when a reporter asked about the reception for the All-Star center in pregame introductions, which was not universally positive. 

Did they boo me? A little bit. But that’s cool. Tonight I could’ve shushed them again, but it was all about having fun again, just getting back to myself. Like I said after last game, going back to doing whatever I want and saying whatever I want. That’s how I used to be and I was dominant in that way. 

“This year I made a decision to change and I guess it hasn’t worked out. So, it comes with the good and bad. If it helps us win and it helps me help the team in a better way to win games, then I’m going to be that guy.

That response appears to indicate an intentional shift back to a brash mentality. The mature, responsible person and player he’d talked about aspiring to be earlier this season? It sounds like he’s scrapping that idea for now.

To Embiid’s credit, he did maintain his vow of avoiding any more suspensions for another game — both himself and Marcus Morris came away with technical fouls after a shoving exchange in the fourth quarter. During that moment, it did seem Embiid was threatening to cross a line. Embiid chirped at Morris, stared up at the video replay of the incident, did a spontaneous dance as everyone waited for a verdict, and eventually returned to basketball. 

The 25-year-old big man is rarely short on drama. When he’s playing well and the Sixers are winning, that drama often manifests as contagious joy and immense entertainment. As we’ve seen recently, the other side isn’t nearly as fun for anyone involved.

“I do understand it,” he said. “Like I keep saying, if you boo and someone is going to shush you, you’ve gotta be OK with it. It’s all love. I understand where they’re coming from, but I do know that they’ve got my back. Through the injuries and what we’ve been through, I’m still here. This is still my city, this is still our city. So, we’re going to keep pushing and trying to win that championship.”



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Adam Silver explains why NBA won't make a decision on 2019-20 season in April

Adam Silver explains why NBA won't make a decision on 2019-20 season in April

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Monday night in a conversation with TNT’s Ernie Johnson that the league will make no decisions on the state of its season in the month of April.

The NBA season has been suspended since March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Throughout his discussion with Johnson, Silver emphasized that there are too many unknowns for it to be wise to take definitive action at this stage.

Shortly after Silver’s remarks, ESPN’s Baxter Holmes reported the NBA was in the exploratory phase of assessing blood-testing devices for the coronavirus that could deliver results within 15 minutes. 

When we initially shut down … there was a notion of 30 days before there was any of the widespread view at that point that our country would, in essence, be entirely shut down over the next several weeks," Silver said. "And so the fact is, sitting here today, I know less, in a way, than I did then. Just as I listen to the public health experts and the people that are advising us, the virus is potentially moving faster than maybe we had thought at that point, and it therefore may peak earlier. What that means in terms of our ability to come back at some point in late spring or summer is still unknown to me. 

And essentially what I’ve told my folks over the past week is that we should just accept, at least for the month of April, we won’t be in a position to make any decisions. I don’t think that necessarily means on May 1 we will be. But at least I do know, I think just to settle everyone down a little, it doesn’t mean internally … that we aren’t looking at many different scenarios for restarting the season. But I think it honestly is just too early, given what’s happening right now, to be able to project or predict where we’ll be in a few weeks.

Silver was asked by Johnson if a resumed season would pick up in the playoffs, with the remaining regular-season games canceled. If the season had continued as normal, the final regular-season games would have taken place on Sunday. 

“Honestly, we haven’t made any decisions,” he said. “In a perfect world, yes, we would try to finish the regular season in some form and then move on to the playoffs. … What I’ve learned over the last few weeks is we just have too little information to make those sort of projections.” 

He touched on a few of the reported options on the table for the league, including a postseason at a single site such as Las Vegas, and indicated the NBA has indeed considered several of those possibilities.

“There’s been a lot of conjecture about various cities and places that might hold a tournament,” Silver said. “Again, we’re in listening mode right now. We’ve been contacted by many of those jurisdictions [about] what our level of interest is and we’ve talked to them about what their capabilities are. But once again, there’s too much unknown right now.” 

Silver also addressed how the NBA might change in future seasons. He indicated arenas may need to institute physical distancing policies. 

“I’m hoping, at least, that those are short-term issues where we might have to put in effect some sort of social distancing when people first come back to arenas,” he said. “I think a lot of that is specific to this virus and when there might be a vaccine, and if there’s an interim period, even when we’re back to work, where there’s not a vaccine yet — there’s concern about a second wave, what will we need to do?

"But I also have tremendous belief in this country. What’s amazing about Americans not only is their resilience, but the spirit of innovation. … I think we’re going to see a new approach to a lot of these problems.”

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Ben Simmons not-so-subtly hinted at a Sixers trade target over the weekend

Ben Simmons not-so-subtly hinted at a Sixers trade target over the weekend

We've reached the second calendar month of the NBA's hiatus, and Sixers star Ben Simmons is still chatting basketball while streaming his Call of Duty matches on Twitch.

In March, Simmons talked about his views on the best defenders in the league - a list, I'll note, which should include Simmons himself. Over the first weekend of April, Simmons was reading the chat on his stream when he decided to choose a very... interesting comment to read aloud:

Hmm. 

I wonder why Simmons decided to read that comment, out of the hundreds he sees during a stream, and then remind us that he's just reading the comments.

At least one commenter in the chat called out "tampering!", but it's not tampering if you're just reading ideas from other people!

In reality, of course, this is just Simmons joking around with the basketball world. He knows fans (and writers) are glued to things like Twitch streams and Instagram feeds without actual basketball to talk about, so he peppered in a little wink-wink, nudge-nudge joke for us to get fired up about.

Still, it makes you wonder...

Booker would probably be a great fit on today's Sixers team. He's a two-guard who can shoot from anywhere on the floor and create his own shot at will, and he's played point guard in the past, which would help keep the offense running when Simmons checks out. Booker's defense being an afterthought isn't much a problem, considering the Sixers are loaded with great defenders.

The real problem for the Sixers would be acquiring, and affording, Booker. He's in the first year of a five-year max contract with the Suns, so waiting for his contract to end isn't viable. And his deal brings a cap hit of $27 million this year, and climbs each year, all the way up to $36 million by the last year of his contract in 2023-24, when Joel Embiid turns 30.

If the Sixers were somehow able to convince the Suns to take one of Al Horford or Tobias Harris off their hands in exchange for Booker - along with other valuable assets headed to Phoenix, of course - it might be possible to balance a payroll with minimum contract players and young, affordable talent around a core of Embiid, Simmons, and Booker.

But I can't imagine the Suns would jettison their only superstar, who is somehow still just 23 years old, unless they decide to blow it up in the next year or two. So instead we're left dreaming, and making trades in NBA 2K20, and waiting for Simmons' next dispatch.

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