Sixers MVP Joel Embiid Causes Cryptic Stir on Social Media

James Harden, Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
James Harden, Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

It could be nothing, just an innocent repurposing of his social media account. Everyone already knows that Joel Embiid is an expert troll. That is on record.

However, this feels clunky and different. Embiid recently tweaked his X account (formerly Twitter) to remove the word “Processing” and “Philadelphia” as his location. Normally, people would be laughing and trying to guess what PR stunt he was up to. Not right now.

The Philadelphia 76ers are arguably the most combustible organization in basketball, following James Harden’s critical comments about Daryl Morey. He wants a trade out of town, but nothing appears imminent, and Harden seems intent on forcing the issue until he’s in another area code.

Meanwhile, P.J. Tucker sounds like he may be headed for a different uniform after siding with Harden on social media.

Things are uglier than a Ben Simmons jumper in the City of Brotherly Love.

“This is certainly a situation for Philadelphia that they don’t want to domino into Joel Embiid’s future,” said ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. “That clock is always ticking on what it means for your best player and that clock is ticking now for the Sixers and Joel Embiid.”

The unspoken fear has centered on Embiid’s future dating back to last year’s second-round exit to Miami. Embiid casually bright up the Burner-Gate fiasco while begging the front office to get him better role players, specifically asking them for Tucker. He also joked about the front office making a move to trade him that year.

“These guys are going to do what it takes to win the championship and if it means trading people, or signing new people, or trading me, uh, that’s what they are going to do and do whatever they believe is going to give them a shot of winning the championship,” Embiid said after losing to the Miami Heat. “But my goal remains the same, it’s to win it all and every single season I feel like I’ve gotten better and there is still another level I can reach.”

They listened. They did it. And they lost again in the Eastern Conference Semifinals to the hated Boston Celtics. Immediately, Doc Rivers was fired as rumors of Harden’s unhappiness started to leak out. Then, Embiid seemed to indicate he wasn’t sure how much longer he’d be in Philly during a buzzworthy interview with Maverick Carter at the Uninterrupted Sports Film Festival. On the record, by the way.

“I just want to win a championship. Whatever it takes…”

“I don’t know where that’s gonna be, whether it’s in Philly or anywhere else, I just want to have a chance to accomplish that. I want to see what it feels like to win that first one, and then you can think about the next one. It’s not easy, but it takes more than one or two, three guys. You got to have good people around you, and myself, every single day, I work hard to be at that level so I can make it happen. So, every single day, I’m working towards that.”

The reigning MVP later brushed his comments off as another troll job, but things have grown heated as a hazy, humid summer swept across the 215. The incubator seems likely to overheat if cooler heads can’t prevail. Someone or something is going to have to give.

So, what happens next? Harden gets traded. His relationship with the organization is beyond fractured. The Sixers aren’t going to get what they want for him either, maybe a future pick and a first-rounder (see: Tari Eason) who hasn’t lived up to expectations.

Or, if the franchise wants to make a run at keeping Harden — and make a compelling pitch to Embiid on a fruitful future — then they could fire Morey. It would signal their commitment to winning now, with this group — against all odds and (maybe) better judgment.

There’s one more option, of course. Blow it up. Trade Harden. Trade Tucker. Trade Embiid. Try and rebuild around Tyrese Maxey and De’Anthony Melton. It puts them much further away from a championship, but it may save them some unnecessary headaches.