Joel Embiid looked exhausted after Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. He gutted out 44 minutes during a 99-90 loss, all while fighting through the pain of a broken face and sprained thumb. After his fourth second-round playoff exit in five years, Embiid seemed at a loss for words.
“Tonight, I tried to be on the floor really the whole game and I didn’t want to take any breaks,” Embiid told reporters. “The season was on the line so I just wanted to do whatever I could, and not regret anything.”
The Sixers fell to the Heat anyway. Now Embiid anticipates undergoing surgery on a torn ligament in his right thumb, although he may avoid a second procedure to fix a broken orbital bone. He needs to confer with team doctors to determine the final course of action for both injuries.
Whatever the case, the All-Star center has begun to prepare his body and mind for the long offseason ahead. That starts and ends with some tough personnel decisions. And Embiid doesn’t intend to have any input on what the front office does this summer.
“If I was fully healthy, you don’t know what could have happened, but the facts are we lost,” Embiid said. “But as far as what we have to do, I’m not the GM. I’m not the president. I don’t make those decisions. These guys are going to do what it takes to win the championship and if it means trading people, or signing new people, or trading me, uh, that’s what they are going to do and do whatever they believe is going to give them a shot of winning the championship. But my goal remains the same, it’s to win it all and every single season I feel like I’ve gotten better and there is still another level I can reach.”
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Trade Embiid? Everything Has a Price
Embiid mentioned getting traded quite a few times during his post-game press conference on Thursday night. The Sixers star was making a larger point about being a commodity that can be bought and sold. Contracts can be ripped up and organizations can unapologetically move on.
“They can trade me anytime. Everything has a price,” Embiid said. “You never know what can happen, I’m sure there are some Philly fans who want that to happen.”
The original question posed to Embiid was if he wanted more say in personnel decisions. He chose not to answer it while keeping a sheepish grin on his face.
“Like I said, I’m not the GM. They can trade me anytime,” Embiid said. “I don’t know. I got home two days ago and I got the best award I could get, it was Most Valuable Father.”
Sixers Need Tough Guys, More PJ Tuckers
Sixers players kept talking about losing the physical battle to Miami. The Heat dove for every loose ball, fought for every second-chance rebound, and rose up to contest every shot. Tyrese Maxey called them “grown men” and Tobias Harris praised their “mental toughness.”
The Sixers couldn’t match those unteachable intangibles. According to Embiid, the Sixers need more guys like P.J. Tucker to do the dirty work needed to win championships.
“You look at a guy like P.J. Tucker, a great player but it’s not about him knocking downs shots. It’s about what he does on the defensive end, rebounding the ball. Defensively, he plays with so much energy that he you can’t get from Point A to Point B. And he believes no one can beat him and he’s tough.
“And he’s physical and he’s tough. And they have a few of those guys, whether it’s Bam [Adebayo] and all those guys. Since I’ve been here, I’d be lying if I said we had those types of guys. Nothing against what we have, it’s just the truth. We never have PJ Tucker, that’s really what I’m trying to say.”