It didn’t take long for Joel Embiid to share his true feelings about Ben Simmons' holdout and trade request.
During his Thursday media availability, Embiid responded to a report from The Athletic’s Sam Amick indicating that Simmons believed the pairing of the 76ers stars had “run its course." Simmons doesn’t have a personal issue with Embiid, per Amick, but he feels that he will not be able to get the most out of his game as long as Phildelphia continues to build around Embiid.
BEN SIMMONS TIMELINE: From top pick to polarizing trade target
While Embiid maintains that he wants Simmons to rejoin the Sixers and knows the team is better when Simmons is part of the rotation, he also doesn’t agree with the idea that Philly hasn’t done enough to put Simmons in a position to be successful.
His full comments:
“I feel like over the years the way our team has been built around, like, you look at last year, the whole starting lineup shot — I was the worst 3-point shooter in the starting lineup, and I shot 38 percent from three. We’ve always had shooters, and I feel like I can really play with anybody. I can make anybody be better on the court. I don’t necessarily need shooters, but I feel like, over the years, you look like when we signed Al [Horford]. It’s because we needed a stretch five just to make sure that was [there]. Most of my career, I’ve had to kind of step out to the 3-point line, which I don’t mind. I like to be a basketball player. I like to do everything on the basketball court.
“But I feel like our teams have been built, whether it’s the shooting needed or stretch five and all that stuff, I feel like he’s always had it here. And we still have it. You got Seth [Curry], one of the best 3-point shooters ever. Danny Green, Tobias [Harris] is a 40 percent 3-point shooter, Furkan [Korkmaz] coming off of the bench. At times Shake [Milton], I think he can be a better shooter, but you know, he can get hot. We just added Georges [Niang]. So, I feel like our teams have always been built around his needs. So, it was kind of surprising to see. Even going back to, I mean, the reason we signed Al. We got rid of Jimmy [Butler], which I still think it was a mistake, just to make sure he needed the ball in his hands, and that’s the decision they made. Like I said, it is suprising.
“But I’m really focused on the guys that are here. The situation is weird, disappointing, borderline kind of disrespectful to all the guys that are out here fighting for their lives. Some guys rely on the team to be successful, to stay in the league and make money somehow. Because, if you’re on a winning team, you’re always going to have a spot in the league, just because you’re on a winning team, and you contributed. Obviously, we’re a better team with him. We’re not a better team without him. That’s for sure. We are a better team with him, but, like I said, it is surprising.
“But I’m focused on the guys that are here. We’re trying to get better, trying to get on the same agenda. We know what we got to do, and every single day we got to attack it as we’re trying to get better every single day. We are a better team with him. There’s no question about it. We still hope that he changes his mind, but I kind of owe it to these guys to just worry about what we have here. That’s the fun of this job.
“To kind of figure out what’s going to happen, that’s not my job. I’m not the GM. I’m not an owner, so that’s none of my business, honestly.”
Video of Joel Embiid's candid comments about Ben Simmons today:— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) September 30, 2021
"Our teams have always been built around [Ben's] needs. ... The situation is weird, disappointing, borderline kind of disrespectful to all the guys that are out here." pic.twitter.com/Z8olfesz5Y
Oh boy. That was a lot.
Embiid made some fair points about team construction. The 76ers have made several moves in the hopes of highlighting Simmons' strengths and downplaying his weaknesses. Embiid has extended his shooting range out to the 3-point line (37.7 percent from deep in 2020-21), but Simmons has yet to fix his most glaring flaw. Plus, Philadelphia finished as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference just last season, so the roster worked, at least to a degree.
That level of honesty from Embiid was refreshing. It also probably won’t help the Sixers convince Simmons to suit up, though maybe nothing will at this stage in the relationship.
ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported earlier this week that Simmons is willing to sit out the 2021-22 season if Philadelphia doesn’t trade him. Of course, Simmons' mindset could always change if he is getting fined for every missed practice and game. For now, though, he is digging in his heels, leaving Embiid and his teammates to answer questions for the foreseeable future.