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Joel Embiid appears openminded to Jimmy Butler’s Instagram recruitment

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Philadelphia 76ers v Miami Heat Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

We get a bit of drama this evening. Earlier, Joel Embiid posted on Instagram. His caption was “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” #TheProcess.” We can safely assume this was in response to Sixer fans booing the superstar at home last night in a win over Chicago.

Former teammate of Embiid’s, Jimmy Butler, took the liberty of replying on Instagram with: “I know a place where villains are welcome.” And Embiid replied “Damn right my brother.” It’s not hard to read the tea leaves here.

Butler, acquired by the Sixers front office last season, was never offered the 5 year max salary ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski suggested he was looking for. Now with the rival Heat, Butler has become public enemy number one in Philly, as Sixer fans boo him vociferously whenever the teams meet. Embiid never seemed to approve of this decision and hasn’t been shy about discussing how challenging his fit has become this season.

Butler suggesting that Embiid embrace being “the villain” (likely down in South Beach) and Embiid not ignoring the comment or shooting the idea down is intriguing. It doesn’t seem farfetched at all, as frustrated as Embiid has seemed this season, for him to potentially be dreaming of a reunion with Jimmy Buckets.

Miami has a long history with villains. LeBron James was once booed a ton after departing the Cavaliers for Miami. Perhaps Embiid will wind up downplaying the social media banter, but it’s not difficult for fans to read between the lines here. It’s not the best way for Embiid, purportedly focused on winning a title in Philadelphia, to lead his teammates or send a message to this front office. But it does reflect the frustration he may be feeling after an extremely questionable off season by the only team he has ever known. The spacing, ball handling and shooting that Butler and JJ Redick provided Embiid last season made life easier on the center.

If this thing winds up going south, (literally) it will look like a case study in failed front office-superstar marriages.

Update: Joel has posted the following tweet:

So fans can do their best to interpret all of the drama. Maybe he is letting people know he still wants to be in Philly for good, and it was all a “misunderstanding” or maybe it’s a bit of damage-control after hearing from some folks with the Sixers, or something in between. Curious indeed.