With the NBA trade deadline just mere days away, speculation is swirling across the league’s landscape. One of the hottest topics prior to the deadline this year is the prospect of the Philadelphia 76ers trading disgruntled All-Star forward Ben Simmons to the Brooklyn Nets for former MVP James Harden. It remains to be seen whether or not a deal will actually materialize, but it’s certainly an intriguing possibility. Sixers All-Star center Joel Embiid has obviously heard the rumblings, and on Monday he was asked about how he feels about Harden during an appearance on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia.
“He plays for the Brooklyn Nets, and there’s nothing I can do about that,” Embiid said of Harden. “That’s like you asking me a question like, would you love playing with Steph Curry? Obviously, the top players all make each other better, and he’s in that category of just being able to — and he’s gotten close before. He’s gotten to the conference finals, he’s gotten close to making it to the Finals. But that’s something I really can’t comment about because he plays for another team, and it’s not realistic. We all see the same thing on the internet, and I don’t know what’s true and what’s not.
“I do believe with the guys we have, my teammates, I do believe that we have a chance together,” Embiid added. “It’s going to take all of us to play at the highest level possible to compete… I can’t comment on a player from another team, but who’s not a fan of, you know, Kevin Durant or Steph Curry or James Harden? They’re all top players in this league. I love watching them, I enjoy their game and what they’ve been able to do in their careers.”
When it comes to the decisions made by Philadelphia’s front office, Embiid made it clear that he doesn’t like to get involved. “I like to stay out of it,” Embiid said. “I don’t ever want to feel like I’m making a decision or I want something to do with it. I get paid to go on the court, do everything I can to bring the results with whatever we have. I really don’t want to be responsible for choosing whatever has to be done.”
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In addition to Harden, Embiid was also asked about Simmons, who has yet to play a game for the Sixers this season after requesting a trade over the offseason. Comments that Embiid made following Philadelphia’s postseason loss to the Atlanta Hawks last season have been pointed to as a reason that Simmons no longer wants to suit up for the Sixers, but the big fella doesn’t think that should be the case. When asked if he thought Simmons’ reaction to his comments was “unreasonable,” Embiid didn’t hold back.
“Oh definitely, definitely,” Embiid said. “You look at what has been said, I just think this is a business. If we don’t get the results, you guys are always on us, you guys are always booing us, and on us, which at times we do deserve. If you’re not playing well, you deserve the boos, you deserve to be let known that oh, you’re not playing well, you need to be better. So, I just don’t think it was reasonable.”
So, would Embiid welcome Simmons back to the Sixers this season if he isn’t moved by the deadline?
“Honestly, I’m trying to win. I’m trying to win a championship,” Embiid said. “Whatever that’s gonna help me achieve that, I’m fine with whatever. I’ve always said that. Obviously, we’re a better team with him on the floor and I’m sure a lot of people agree, even if they don’t want to agree, it doesn’t matter. We still are a better team with him on the floor. So, to me, my goal has always been to win a championship.”
While the latest comments from Embiid are interesting, they don’t differ much from the stance he has maintained all season. The big man only seems to be interested in controlling what he can control, which is his play. Embiid has never been better than he has been so far this season, and that’s why he’s currently the NBA‘s MVP frontrunner. Perhaps Philadelphia’s front office will pull the trigger and trade Simmons for Harden, or someone else, prior to the deadline. Or maybe they won’t. Regardless of what happens, we shouldn’t expect to see any change in Embiid’s approach to the game.