Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid responded to a report on Thursday that Ben Simmons no longer wanted to play alongside him due to his playing style. Simmons has requested a trade away from Philadelphia and he plans to stay away from the Sixers until his wish is granted.
While Embiid noted that he still thinks the Sixers are better off with the Defensive Player of the Year runner-up on the court, he also pushed back against the idea that Simmons’ unhappiness with his role in Philadelphia is somehow his fault. Embiid said that he has altered his own game to better fit alongside Simmons, and added that he feels like Philadelphia’s rosters have consistently been built around Simmons, who prefers to operate with the ball in his hands due to his inability to space the floor with a shot. Both of those things are objectively true.
“It was kind of surprising to see,” Embiid said of the report. “We’ll say that, even going back to, the reason we signed Al [Horford]. We got rid of Jimmy [Butler], which I still think was a mistake, just to make sure he needed the ball in his hands, and that’s the decision they made. Like I said, it is surprising… Most of my career, I’ve had to kind of step back out to the 3-point line, which I don’t mind. I like to be a basketball player. I like to do everything on the basketball court.
“But I feel like our teams have been built, whether it’s the shooting needed or stretch five and that stuff, I feel like he’s always had it here,” Embiid added. “And we still have it. Seth [Curry] is one of the best 3-point shooters ever. Danny Green, Tobias is a 40 percent 3-point shooter. Furkan [Korkmaz] coming off of the bench. At times Shake [Milton], I think he can be a better shooter, but you know, he can get hot. We just added Georges [Niang]. So I feel like, our teams have always been built around his needs.”
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Embiid also publicly spoke out against Simmons’ stance and decision to remain away from the team for the first time by calling it “weird” and “borderline disrespectful.”
“I’m really focused on the guys that are here,” Embiid said. “The situation is weird, disappointing, borderline kind of disrespectful to all the guys that are out here fighting for their lives. Some guys rely on the team being successful to stay in the league and make money somehow. Because if you’re on a winning team, you’re always going to have a spot in the league, just because you’re on a winning team and you contributed.”
After playing nice for the first few days of training camp, Embiid clearly didn’t feel like holding back anymore. The big fella’s comments likely won’t help the situation at all but, at this point, it hardly matters as the relationship between Simmons and the Sixers appears to be irreparable. Even if Simmons ultimately re-joins the team for financial reasons, a trade is all but inevitable.