Joel Embiid would leave Sixers for championship goal: ‘I don’t know where that’s going to be’

21 July 2023

As uncertainty swirls around the Sixers and the Knicks maintain their chest of trade assets, Joel Embiid acknowledged that achieving his goal may not happen in Philadelphia.

“I just want to win a championship. Whatever it takes. I don’t know where that’s going be,” Embiid said last week at the inaugural UNINTERRUPTED Film Festival.  “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. It takes more than one or two or three guys.”

Embiid’s comment, which was delivered after interviewer Maverick Carter asked about the center’s future, comes after the Sixers, a perennial playoff disappointment, were again eliminated in the second round, fired head coach Doc Rivers and James Harden requested a trade.

As the Daily News reported, Embiid has been mentioned for months around league circles as the Knicks’ ideal trade candidate. Leon Rose, who served as Embiid’s agent before taking over New York’s front office, has accumulated a bevy of future draft picks — although some are protected and losing value — while demonstrating restraint in negotiations for stars lesser than the reigning MVP.

Of course, hinting at pressuring the Sixers is much different than requesting a trade. Embiid, 29, still has four years and roughly $196 million remaining on his contract, including a $59 million player option in 2026-27.

The circumstances should make a trade unlikely, but a recent NBA trend suggests otherwise. Just in the last few years, Harden, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal worked out trades to desired destinations with multiple years left on their respective mega contracts. Dame Lillard is in the process of doing it.

Embiid, who was drafted by the Sixers in 2014, has struggled in the playoffs and never advanced past the second round. He recently expressed hope that Harden would reconsider his trade demand.

There has been no indication Harden has changed his mind, however. The Clippers are reportedly his top choice.

“Disappointed. But then, I also understand, it’s business,” Embiid told Showtime’s Rachel Nichols. “You know, people make decisions and I’m more appreciative of the way he’s handled the whole situation. We’re going to be boys forever. I want him to come back, obviously, so we can go out and accomplish what we want, which is to win a championship. So hopefully his mindset can be changed.

“But other than that, I’m just so happy to be his friend. You know, we close. We’ve grown since he got here. That’s what I’m excited about. I’m excited to keep that friendship for the rest of our lives.”

Embiid’s interview last week at the UNINTERRUPTED Film Festival was part of his new partnership with LeBron James’ multimedia company, The SpringHill Company.

The Knicks, meanwhile, navigated another quiet offseason after falling in the second round to Miami. They picked up Donte DiVincenzo in free agency and traded Obi Toppin.

But they kept all their draft assets in case a superstar like Embiid jars loose.


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