Sixers Risk Losing Joel Embiid Based on Crucial Outcome

Joel Embiid

Getty Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers will have an important decision to make if James Harden opts out of his contract this summer. If that happens, do they pay him every penny for the longest time possible to keep him around or let him walk? And what effect could that have on Joel Embiid? ESPN’s Zach Lowe delved into the effect Harden’s possible departure and the Sixers’ failing to make progress in the postseason could have on Embiid.

“There hasn’t been enough discussion of what the Sixers have riding on the next few months. They have not been to the conference finals in 22 years. They dodged the thorny sides of the bracket in each of the last two seasons, and still crumbled in the second round. Harden can enter free agency this summer. The Sixers (as of now) would not have cap space to replace him.

“How might Embiid react to another early loss and the subsequent departure of Harden?”

Since Embiid’s rookie year, the Sixers have come very close to the Eastern Conference Finals, having made it to Game 7 of that very round twice in the last five years, but have failed to get over the hump.

Failing to do that again this season could spell trouble not just with Harden’s future with the Sixers, but Embiid’s as well.

Embiid’s Honest Thoughts on Regular Season Success

Though the Sixers have experienced plenty of regular season success over the past several years, Embiid said that it will all be for nothing if it doesn’t translate into playoff success.

Joel Embiid told Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer why that’s not good enough in their case.

“It’s good, but it’s all about continuing it,” he said. “You still have to be able to have that continuity and be able to take it further into the second half of the season and in the playoffs.

“It’s good, but it’s the regular season. That’s not what matters.”

Tyrese Maxey believes that, for the Sixers to have that playoff success, they will have to reach another gear, which he believes they have.

“Certain teams flip the switch,” Maxey said. “Playoffs or championship teams flip that switch, and we have to be able to flip that switch post-All-Star break.

“I think we have the mentality, the guys, the talent and camaraderie to do it.”

While the Sixers talk like they know what’s at stake, they will have put their money where their mouths are when the postseason comes around.

Harden Returning to Houston a ‘Legitimate Possiblity’

On ESPN’s “The Hoop Collective Podcast,” reporter Tim MacMahon commented on the possibility of Harden going back to the Houston Rockets.

“Houston believes that it’s a legitimate possibility and that’s not coming out of thin air. James Harden still spends a lot of time in Houston. He spends his summers in Houston. He works out at the Rockets facility on a regular basis,” MacMahon said.

He added that Harden has not given a definitive no when asked about a possible return to the Rockets.

“Harden by the way never shot it down. He just said, ‘I don’t know where that came from,” MacMahon said. “A non-denial 100%.”

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