Joel Embiid clearly wants to win an NBA title.
Now, however, it looks like he’s ready to leave Philadelphia to make it happen.
The 76ers star and active league MVP performed at the Uninterrupted Sports Film Festival in Los Angeles on Thursday with Maverick Carter. A clip from the event went viral on social media on Monday and made it clear that Embiid has no plans to end his career in Philadelphia if he fails to win a championship there.
“I just want to win the championship, whatever the cost,” Embiid said. “I don’t know where it will be, whether it’s in Philadelphia or anywhere else. I just want to have a chance to achieve something – I want to see what it’s like to win the first time, and then you can think about the next one. It is not simple. It takes more than one, two, three guys. There should be good people around you and I work hard every single day to be at that level so that I can achieve this.”
Didn’t expect Joel Embiid to say “or anywhere else” when talking about championships… Here in Philadelphia, he’s close to breaking point. pic.twitter.com/0MqXX1rnrT
— AJ Torres (@ajtorres1230) July 17, 2023
It’s easy to see why Embiid could be disappointed in the 76s. The 29-year-old averaged 33.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists last season and won his first league MVP award. The six-time All-Star shot almost 55% from the field and led the NBA in scoring for the second straight season.
But since Embiid debuted in 2016, the 76ers have failed to advance from the Eastern Conference Semifinals. At that point, they had lost five times in their last six playoff seasons, and the franchise hadn’t reached the NBA Finals since 2001.
The Sixers fired coach Doc Rivers after a 4-3 loss to the Boston Celtics in the semi-finals last season and decided to hire former Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse to replace him. Nurse, a former coach of the year who helped Toronto win its first and only NBA championship, was fired by the Raptors after they missed the playoffs.
Embiid has signed a four-year, $213 million extension with the team that runs through the 2026-27 season. This deal would net him an average of over $53 million per season.
While it will take a long time to move Embiid in this trade, it’s possible that his biggest teammate is also looking to get out of Philadelphia right now. Earlier this summer, James Harden chose the player option with the team and said he wanted to be traded, reportedly to the Los Angeles Clippers.
While Embiid’s future in Philadelphia is in no way dependent on Harden’s plans, it’s hard to imagine Embiid happily staying on if the 76ers can’t replace Harden with a substantial core that works around Embiid.
And if the team can’t make it to the NBA Finals, let alone the Eastern Conference Finals, in the near future, Embiid’s comments about playing elsewhere before retiring are sure to become a lot less subtle than Thursday night.