76ers

Joel Embiid vows to 'kick [Jahlil Okafor's] a--' 4 times a year

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Joel Embiid vows to 'kick [Jahlil Okafor's] a--' 4 times a year

Joel Embiid wished Jahlil Okafor well following his trade to the Nets as only Embiid does. 

"I made sure to let him know that I was going to kick his a--," Embiid said. "We play them four times a year. I made sure to let him know that every year, four times, I'm going to kick his a--."

A promise of a butt-kicking actually is a sign Embiid cares. He similarly told former teammate Nerlens Noel he was going to "cook his a--" when they faced off as opponents for the first time in November. Embiid, Okafor and Noel all played through the center logjam together. 

"That's my close friend," Embiid said of Okafor. "I was really happy for him and excited." 

The trade also hit close to T.J. McConnell. He had developed such a strong friendship with Nik Stauskas that Stauskas was a groomsman in his wedding this past summer. Okafor also was a guest.

"The kind of ups and downs that me and Nik have gone through, and Jahlil, being here for 10-win seasons and hanging out and just doing what friends do, it's crappy to have two of them go at the same time," McConnell said. "I love those guys to death and I'm going to miss them." 

The Sixers will welcome Trevor Booker when he joins the team. Booker had been in Mexico with the Nets when he was traded to Philadelphia.

Jimmy Butler's reported interest in Sixers not mutual

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USA Today Images

Jimmy Butler's reported interest in Sixers not mutual

Just when you thought the Sixers completely avoided the Jimmy Butler saga, here we are.

In his season predictions, Zach Lowe of ESPN had this interesting nugget on Butler and the Sixers.

Philly would be a different story, and Butler has eyes for them, sources familiar with the matter say. The Sixers have expressed almost no interest in trading for him, sources say.

Thanks but no thanks, Jimmy.

I’ve written more than once on our site about why the Sixers shouldn’t have interest in Butler. They clearly need a difference-making wing, but Butler is not an elite three-point shooter, plays a ton in isolation and will be 30 years old when his next contract kicks in. None of that fits what the team is looking for.

There were reports that the Timberwolves asked for Ben Simmons in a trade for Butler which is laughable. Butler is a great basketball player, but at 22, we’ve only scratched the surface of what Simmons can be. 

Plus … have you seen the crap that Butler has pulled recently? Minnesota actually canceled a practice and media availability for a day because of Butler. Is that the type of influence you want on Simmons, Joel Embiid and Markelle Fultz? Even if Butler wouldn't pull the same stuff here, keep in mind that he did also have issues with Derrick Rose in Chicago. Drama has seemed to follow him.

I get the Sixers are looking for that one more star that can push them over the top, but Butler is not that guy. Would he make the team better right away? For sure, but unless Minnesota is giving him away — they’re not — I’m not interested.

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Why Sixers' process is actually just getting started

Why Sixers' process is actually just getting started

Ben Simmons leaned forward to the microphone and answered in his typical calm demeanor.

“The process is never-ending,” the Sixers point guard said in Shanghai when asked whether the team had completed its rebuilding objective.

The response received a strong nod of the head from teammate Joel Embiid, who was sitting next to Simmons on the podium.

Now I’m not one who is going to argue whether the process will last forever. What I will tell you is that the Sixers’ development is actually just getting started.

Don’t freak out just yet. Yes, I understand the depths from which this franchise has pulled itself out of over the past five years. It’s hard to forget starting lineups that featured players such as Hollis Thompson, James Anderson, Isaiah Canaan and the list goes on.

Those early-process lineups are some of the most guess who moments in NBA history and are a major reason Brett Brown compiled a 75-253 record during his first four seasons as Sixers head coach.

But the Sixers were never going to be that bad forever. They were bound to hit on enough of those lottery picks and the players would eventually get healthy to prove their worth on the court.

That perfect storm came to fruition last season as the Sixers rolled out a core of players mostly developed in their own organization that blazed a trail to 52 wins and a playoff series victory for the first time in six seasons.

Now comes the hard part.

Just about every franchise (minus the Sacramento Kings) has dealt with some sort of major overhaul and been able to get back to respectability. However, very few teams have continued up the ladder to make the leap to serious contender.

The obvious model is Golden State, which currently sits on three championships in four years. The Warriors won 23 games in 2011-12, made the playoffs with 47 wins in 2012-13 and cracked the postseason again the following season with 51 victories. They finally broke through with 67 wins and an NBA title in 2014-15.

But not everyone can crack that code to move from very good to elite.

Look at the Toronto Raptors, who have notched at least 48 wins in each of the past five years but never sniffed the Finals. A lot of that had to do with LeBron James dominating the Eastern Conference. Still, elite teams figure out a way to get over the hump.

Think back to Michael Jordan’s Bulls eventually knocking off the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons. Glance at James’ Cleveland Cavaliers finally dispatching Larry Brown’s Pistons or how his Miami Heat Big Three took down the Celtics’ version. Even the current Warriors had to navigate the minefield that is the Western Conference to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy.

The Sixers believe they’re ready to be that next squad that rises from the ashes to the mountaintop, even if it means going through that green nemesis in Boston.

“The goal this year is obviously going to the Finals and competing for the championship,” Embiid said. “We’re just going to do our job, come out every night and compete and win every game we can.”

That objective will be much more difficult than just screaming “trust the process,” and it starts tonight in Boston.

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