Joel Embiid has a choice: He can play in the Paris Olympics next summer for France, the United States, or Cameroon (which earned its way into a qualifying tournament next summer; France and the USA are already in).
He will have to make that decision sooner rather than later, with the president of the French Basketball Federation setting an early Oct. 10 deadline for Embiid to decide. Here is what Jean-Pierre Siutat said on the “Stephen Time show” on French radio station RMC, via Eurohoops.net.
“[A decision] will happen very quickly in all cases. We hope so and I think he knows it. We may have an answer by October 10. We have set this deadline.”
Embiid has yet to play for any nation’s
senior national basketball team, so he is still free to pick the country he will represent. USA Basketball head honcho Grant Hill has done his best to recruit Embiid to Team USA. There is a sense in some quarters Embiid would prefer to put a decision off until he saw how he felt coming out of the season and playoffs with the 76ers — he may ultimately choose to stay home and not play in the Olympics. That timeframe may be off the table, both France and the USA need to recruit other players for the games and can’t wait forever.
After a disappointing World Cup finish where France didn’t get out of the group stage, there is an intense desire in France for Embiid to play, but Siutat used guarded language talking about the NBA MVP:
“We never communicated anything official about Joel Embiid. There was buzz created from everywhere, and I repeat that I want him to come. However, we made no communication about the fact that he was with us. Today, he is still not with us. We are working on it, we have a firm desire to do it. He knows it. We had the opportunity to discuss it with him and we are awaiting a decision. The American team is very interested in the idea of having him. Cameroon is qualified for the pre-Olympics. It’s a delicate situation for him.”
France will be one of the medal favorites at the Paris Olympics, with a frontline that could include Embiid, Victor Wembanyama and Rudy Gobert, along with Evan Fournier (who is at his best in FIBA games), Nicolas Batum (who is expected to retire after the Olympics) and a host of current and former NBA-level talent on the roster.
LeBron James is already recruiting a Team USA squad that could include himself and Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Devin Booker, Jayson Tatum and Draymond Green, among other big names. What the USA roster needed at the World Cup was a better presence in the paint, and Embiid would undoubtedly fill that role.
Cameroon could tug at Embiid’s
heart, but any team trying to get out of a qualifying tournament next summer will have a tough road, those are tournaments deep with quality from around the globe.
Whatever he decides, Embiid may have to choose sooner rather than later.
Source: Yahoo Sports