The Philadelphia Sixers’ latest season is just days away, but there are already NBA rumors involving the team’s big men, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid. In particular, one of these two is expected to be traded from the team while the other will likely remain on the roster for the foreseeable future. However, the latter of these stars, center Joel Embiid, is already expressing some displeasure with how he’s being used by the team as the new NBA season begins. Could this early tension over playing time cause future issues between the emerging star and his franchise?
The Philadelphia 76ers spoke with the media recently, and when head coach Brett Brown was asked about Embiid’s minutes this season, his answer ended up being, “somewhere like in the teens.” Brown admitted it would depend on how he looked on the court too. The team allowed Joel Embiid to participate in a few of the NBA preseason games, but he played just 15 minutes in both games. It’s expected that he’ll have similar minutes when the regular season gets underway, mostly due to injury concerns the team has with their star big man. In a report via ESPN on Tuesday afternoon, Embiid didn’t hold back when asked about his “restricted minutes” situation for the Philadelphia 76ers.
The potential All-Star center gave a few expletives while showing his displeasure with the team’s decision.
“That’s f—ing bulls—. I wish I was playing more minutes. I think I’m ready. I think I’m ready for more than whatever number they have. I don’t know. I wish I was playing more, but we’re going to see how that goes.”
The past NBA season was considered Embiid’s rookie campaign due to his injury, surgery, and recovery setbacks. He had a strong start in that first year of official play for the team and even was nearing All-Star consideration at one point. The former third overall pick by Philly in 2014 averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game for the past season while appearing in just 31 games. He ended up losing the NBA Rookie of the Year Award battle to Malcolm Brogdon of the Milwaukee Bucks. Embiid’s teammate, Dario Saric, was also in the running for the award.
Over the past month, Embiid’s Sixers went 2-3 for their preseason slate. However, they are coming off back-to-back preseason wins as they head into the NBA’s regular season. The most recent was a 119-95 win over the Miami Heat at home. Embiid was in the starting lineup and played just 15 minutes scoring five points and grabbing seven rebounds. He also picked up three fouls in that time on the court. By comparison, teammates Ben Simmons and Dario Saric, played 18 and 19 minutes, respectively.
However, Embiid also showed his abilities to produce for the team in the other game he played this preseason. Against the Brooklyn Nets last week, he scored 22 points and had seven rebounds in his 15 minutes of time on the court. The Sixers won that game by a final of 133-114.
The Philadelphia 76ers officially open their season on Thursday night. Embiid and the team will be on the road as they visit John Wall, Bradley Beal, and the Washington Wizards. It could provide an early measuring stick for how this young 76ers team will fare this coming season against some of the league’s contending teams. As of this report, the Vegas Insider lists the Wizards as seven-point favorites to win the game on the point spread.
Embiid just signed a big five-year, $145 million contract extension a week ago, so he at least has that money to keep him happy with the limited minutes. While it’s understandable that he wants to get on the court and contribute as much as possible, he’ll also have to allow the team and their staff make the best decisions for him as a part of their roster.
[Featured Image by Abbie Parr/Getty Images]