Dear Philadelphia 76ers, consider yourselves warned.
Amid the current stretch of uncertainty surrounding the franchise starting with the James Harden ordeal and a lackluster offseason, the 76ers are definitely not in an envied position stability-wise. And while the captain of the ship is still steering the wheel, one can only wonder how many more iffy waves he can brave before he jumps off of it.
"I just want to win a championship. Whatever it takes. I don’t know where that’s going to be. Whether it’s in Philly or anywhere else, I just want to have a chance."
Did Joel Embiid just send a strong signal to the Philadelphia 76ers?
Safe to say, Embiid does not appear too confident nor resolute on the team’s current shot to win the Larry O’Brien trophy anytime soon. The Sixers’ win-now stance following a long stretch of intentional losing to create the groundwork for sustainable success may suggest otherwise, but how the franchise has operated in recent years truly ought to be looked at in a microscope.
Whereas Embiid has truly blossomed into a bona fide superstar dominating year after year, the 76ers have also been on a consistent annual track — of disappointments. From early playoff exits (a marginal shard of it imputable to Embiid) to infamous off-court subplots (Bryan Colangelo, Ben Simmons, Doc Rivers, and now — Harden), the franchise has failed to secure the stability and culture that keeps elite talent for good.
Can one truly blame Embiid for signaling some degree of openness to finding a new home? Championships are not made overnight, but inasmuch as it is a process, the path toward it ought to at least be meaningful and purposive and not littered with murky episodes. Unfortunately, that has been the story for the team in recent seasons, and without a title to soften the collaborative blow, this could have been inevitable all along.
The willful hope is that all these are overreactions. That being said, that Embiid is amenable to the idea of winning elsewhere should absolutely terrify the franchise and inject some more sense of overarched urgency across the organization. Whether that results into more conclusive resolutions off the court or an inspiring stroke of on-court success, the 76ers should clearly embed the risk of Joel Embiid leaving into their every decision.
Otherwise, another tedious process could be brewing.