After a Monday morning news cycle that was full of new reports regarding a potential James Harden-Ben Simmons deal (which, for now, seems unlikely before the trade deadline), Joel Embiid made a radio appearance in the afternoon to address a few topics himself.
Embiid went on the Mike Missanelli Show and answered a range of questions on the main topics you’d want to hear the big fella discuss right now. For starters, Embiid didn’t hold back when asked about the Simmons situation and the disgruntled star’s relationship with the Sixers.
“Everybody’s at fault,” Embiid began. “But at the end of the day, you’ve gotta look at yourself. Just like when we lost [in the playoffs], I looked at myself. I knew I wasn’t good enough. I knew I wasn’t healthy enough and I knew I wasn’t good enough.”
“At the end of the day, you’ve gotta have some self-awareness,” Embiid added.
“The notion about guys getting called out and whatever, I just don’t see it that way,” he said. “You look at the comments that were made… I didn’t call out anybody specifically out, I just called a bunch of events that happened.”
When Embiid was asked if Simmons’ reaction to the comments he and Doc Rivers made after Game 7 against the Hawks was unreasonable, he replied, “Oh, definitely.”
Embiid’s right, and his honesty on the subject is refreshing. The comments he and Rivers made were significantly blown out of proportion by most. Especially when you consider the fact that Embiid still took his share of the blame and mentioned his own shortcomings, and Rivers spent the whole season tirelessly praising Simmons, often highlighting Simmons’ best qualities whenever possible. A couple of sentences in the heat of the moment after a crushing playoff elimination should hardly change everything.
Embiid himself even touched on the way Rivers supported Simmons through last season.
Joel Embiid when asked by @MikeMiss25 whether anything could have been done differently after the Hawks series to prevent the Simmons situation:— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) February 7, 2022
"I mean, the only thing I can think about is the comments...But I really believe that it's really deeper than that." pic.twitter.com/UyL5MU2IEs
Embiid’s frustration with Simmons is pretty clear when you consider the statements about self awareness and Simmons’ “unreasonable” reaction to what was said after Game 7 against the Hawks. This damaged relationship is one of many reasons why Simmons actually playing another game for the Sixers still seems so unlikely if he remains in Philadelphia after the trade deadline.
Unsurprisingly, though, Embiid did make a comment to present a balanced stance on the situation. After all, there’s a good chance Simmons does stay put after the deadline.
“I mean, honestly, I’m trying to win,” Embiid said when asked if he’d welcome Simmons back with the Sixers. “I’m trying to win a championship. Whatever’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.”
As for potential moves at the trade deadline, Embiid emphasized another message you’d expect from him in a public interview: he likes to stay out of the Sixers’ front office trade discussions. “I really don’t wanna be responsible for choosing whatever has to be done,” he said.
One final major topic Embiid was asked about was his MVP candidacy. He had a simple response when asked if he should be MVP: “The play this year is speaking for itself.”
Embiid is certainly right to let his play do the talking. He’s led the Sixers to a 32-21 record with his incredible play, and after his latest 40-point game on Sunday he now leads the NBA with an average of 29.3 points per game. Over his past 20 games of domination, Embiid has averaged 33.8 points with a 64.1 true shooting percentage, 11 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.6 blocks. With his unstoppable scoring, elevated transition play and improvement as a passer, Embiid is playing better than ever and well and truly deserves his consideration for MVP.
You can watch Embiid’s interview in full here if you want to don’t want to miss anything.