Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid faces a major career decision that will likely have a worldwide impact, but said he’s not ready to make it quite yet.
After Embiid became a United States citizen last September, the USA Basketball Men’s National Team has been angling for him to join their team for this summer’s FIBA World Cup as well as the 2024 Paris Olympics. Embiid could also choose to play for the Olympic host country after gaining French citizenship in July.
As the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Keith Pompey noted, Embiid isn’t ready to make his decision.
Embiid ‘Avoiding the Question’ About International Basketball Plans
As Pompey noted, Embiid has been avoiding any public statements about which team he will play for this summer, saying he is solely focused on the Sixers and their title hopes.
“I’m focused on the season,” Embiid said during NBA All-Star Weekend. “We have a long season ahead, second half of the season. Once I get there, the main goal is to win. That’s what my focus is: Go out and do whatever it takes to try to accomplish that goal to win a championship. So, like I said, that’s where I’m focused.”
The Sixers hold the No. 3 spot in the Eastern Conference at the All-Star break, just three games behind the Boston Celtics at the top of the conference.
As Pompey noted, it was “widely believed” that Embiid was planning to play for France, though that was before he gained his U.S. citizenship. The MVP candidate needs to officially make a choice to FIBA in order to compete in both the World Cup and Olympics, Pompey noted.
Embiid has avoided international play in the past. He was named to the preliminary 30-man roster for his native Cameroon prior to the 2017 FIBA AfroBasket event in the Republic of Congo, but ultimately did not play.
Balance of International Play Could Hinge on Embiid’s Decision
Embiid’s decision will likely have a major impact on the international landscape, Pompey noted. Though the U.S. team has won gold in each of the last four Olympics, the French team is close behind and took home the silver medal in the 2021 games in Tokyo.
If Embiid should choose to play for France, it would give them a formidable roster that also includes NBA players Evan Fournier, Nicolas Batum and Rudy Gobert along with presumptive No. 1 overall draft pick Victor Wembanyama.
The roster for the U.S. men’s team has been coming together, along with the coaching staff. As The Associated Press reported, Los Angeles Clippers coach Tyronn Lue was recently added to the bench to replace Phoenix’s Monty Williams.
As the report noted, the United States also has the formality of securing a spot in the Olympics and FIBA World Cup.
“The U.S. has not yet qualified for either this summer’s World Cup or the 2024 Olympics,” the report noted. “The Americans — who use mostly G League players in qualifying games, before filling the roster with NBA talent for the major tournaments — will look to clinch a World Cup berth in the sixth and final window of qualifying games for that tournament later this month.”