Joel Embiid gave a short summary on Sunday of the Sixers’ summer.
“This off-season was fun lmao,” Embiid tweeted.
Last season’s MVP is slated to answer questions Monday at the Sixers’ media day. Hard to believe that’s a fun prospect.
The Sixers made zero external signings beyond one-season, minimum-salary deals this offseason, unless you count 2021 second-round pick Filip Petrušev’s two-year contract that’s partially guaranteed in Year 1.
They’ve added Patrick Beverley, Kelly Oubre Jr., Mo Bamba and Danny Green to the team that lost a seven-game second-round playoff series to the Celtics last year. Most of that squad is back, including once-restricted free agent Paul Reed, although Georges Niang, Jalen McDaniels and Shake Milton signed with other teams. Doc Rivers is out, Nick Nurse in as the Sixers’ head coach.
Several of those moves might be meaningful for the Sixers. Maybe Oubre will shine as a two-way wing off the bench, Reed’s reworked jumper will impress off the bat, and Nurse will rejuvenate the Sixers’ transition offense. Perhaps the Sixers will sorely miss Niang’s three-point shooting and a new head coach won’t fix many roster-related flaws.
For the time being, none of those possibilities will draw nearly as much interest as James Harden.
Harden, who exercised his $35.6 million player option in late June, is still a Sixer. The NBA fined him $100,000 in August for “public comments … indicating that he would not perform the services called for under his player contract unless traded to another team.” Over the past few days, the Bucks (Damian Lillard) and Celtics (Jrue Holiday) have acquired big-name point guards besides Harden. Milwaukee and Boston were the only two Eastern Conference teams ahead of the 54-win Sixers last regular season.
This July, Showtime’s Rachel Nichols asked Embiid about Harden’s trade request.
“Disappointed,” Embiid told Nichols. “But then again, I also understand it’s business. People make decisions. I’m more appreciative of the way he’s handled the whole situation. We’re going to be boys forever. I want him to come back, obviously, so that we can go out and accomplish what we want, which is to win a championship. So hopefully his mindset can be changed.
“But other than that, I’m just so happy to be his friend. We’re close, and we’ve grown since he got here. That’s what I’m excited about. I’m excited to keep that friendship for the rest of our lives.”
Harden has since called Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey a “liar.” There are many paths he could take from here, ranging from all-out disruptiveness to eventual acquiescence. We don’t yet know his specific plans.
In laying out where the Sixers stand, it’s notable that the team appears set to have substantial cap space and flexibility next summer. A new season is about to start, though, and Embiid will be asked about drama surrounding a star point guard for the second time in three years.
That’s not most people’s idea of fun.
Source: Yahoo Sports