The Sixers locker room culture has come under fire for years now. Fans have been critical of the way Brett Brown interacts with his players, and former/current players alike have publicly criticized the team’s operations.
Following back-to-back blowout losses to the Celtics and the Heat (and a brutal loss to the Hawks), it appears things have come to a boiling point.
Reporters did not hold back at the Sixers practice facility this afternoon, questioning the players’ commitment to Brett Brown while also probing some of the guys for quotes on a potentially broken locker room.
Al Horford gave the beat writers exactly what they were looking for. When asked about the culture, Horford responded with, “There is some stuff going on in our locker room, and we’ll keep that internal”.
Now obviously, by even saying something like that, the “internal” issues are now no longer internal. The local and national media alike are poised to run with this story for weeks, most likely pitting Simmons and Embiid against each other.
Widely respected as a classy veteran, this was a pretty serious lapse of judgement by Horford.
Horford was part of a really ugly culture collapse in Boston last season. The team massively underachieved and drama popped up left and right. While most blamed Kyrie Irving and his antics initially, heads are starting to turn towards Horford as a common factor…
Joel Embiid had his own words to share with the media, heavily criticizing his role in the offense and the team’s lack of spacing. He pointed out that he’s been struggling to “fit in” while also spending a ton of time out on the three-point line. Embiid’s frustrations have been a focal point to the 2020 season, dating back to his zero-point performance against the Raptors.
While most fans were quick to link Embiid’s comments to Simmons and his lack of a jumper, I actually don’t think that is what he was talking about. He and Simmons had played great together for years. The addition of another center (Horford) and the departure of an elite floor-spacer (JJ Redick) are most likely where Embiid’s frustrations lie.
Horford constantly clogging up the lane while also taking low percentage threes is directly impacting Embiid and his game. Finding the fit between the two is looking increasingly impossible.
The 76ers sit in 6th place at the moment and have to travel to Milwaukee on Thursday night to take on the first-seed Bucks. With the trade deadline also closing on Thursday, it truly could be a “sink or swim” moment for the slumping Sixers.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports