Joel Embiid Makes Subtle Pitch to Free-Agent Superstar

Joel Embiid

Getty Joel Embiid prior to Game 5 against the New York Knicks on April 30.

In seven straight trips to the postseason during Joel Embiid‘s tenure with the Philadelphia 76ers, they have failed to make an appearance in the conference finals.

Pressure is mounting on the front office to pair the former MVP with a co-star that gives him and the team a legitimate NBA Finals shot.

Fans think Paul George is Embiid’s desired teammate after the two made guest appearances on a June 14 episode of NBA Countdown.

When talking about the Boston Celtics and recruiting free agents to the 76ers, Embiid gestured to George.

“I can’t stand them. I hate Boston. Great city. Great fans. They’ve got some great players. Hopefully, this offseason, we find a way to get better and add some pieces,” Embiid said. He glanced at George mid-sentence.

George has a $48.7 million player option for the 2024-2025 season to remain with the LA Clippers. But the closer he gets to free agency without a contract extension, the more likely it is that he explores his options.

The nine-time All-Star averaged 22.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.5 steals per game with the Clippers this season.

Entering his 15th NBA season, George’s championship window is closing. There’s a similar sense of urgency in Philadelphia with Embiid.

Pincus Predicts George to 76ers

In a June 14 column for Bleacher Report, Eric Pincus made predictions for the summer’s star free agents. He predicts George ends up with the 76ers when all is said and done.

And on a max contract, too.

“With the Philadelphia 76ers’ significant spending power, the 34-year-old has the leverage to push the Clippers lest he relocates to the Eastern Conference,” Pincus wrote. “Unless he opts in and extends with the Clips, George would decline his final year at $48.8 million to sign a new contract, potentially for four years ($221.1 million in Los Angeles, $212.2 million in Philadelphia).”

But a max deal for George would significantly hinder their ability to build out the roster.

“If George is kept for four seasons at the maximum in Philadelphia, the 76ers would have about $13.9 million to spend, assuming all other players are let go except the No. 16 pick, Embiid and Maxey.”

A rookie, Embiid, George, and Tyrese Maxey with only $13.9 million to spend doesn’t scream title contender.

Especially given the injury concerns surrounding the would-be superstar duo.

Embiid, George Are Injury Prone

Philadelphia has had to battle through absence after absence from their superstar player since drafting him third overall in 2014.

Embiid appeared in just 39 games this season. He’s averaged 54 games over eight seasons with the 76ers. Which makes any decision to invest in George questionable to say the least.

Even with a bounce back 2023-2024 season, he’s averaged just 52 games since arriving in Los Angeles in 2019.

There are serious questions about his durability, and he’s only getting older.

George is 34 years old. He’s approaching his last big contract. Investing a max contract into him is a risky proposition.

Philadelphia went 16-27 without Embiid this season. If both he and George were to miss time simultaneously, that record could be a lot worse next season, giving the roster limitations of adding a max contract.

Another summer, another high stakes free agency for Daryl Morey and the 76ers.

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