Once again, Joel Embiid found himself watching as the Philadelphia 76ers found themselves on the outside looking in on a major NBA deal.
After Friday’s blockbuster trade that sent Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks, Jrue Holiday and Deandre Ayton to the Portland Trail Blazers, and Jusuf Nurkic to the Phoenix Suns, yet another major deal has been struck ahead of the regular season.
Sunday, Oct. 1, the Boston Celtics made headlines of their own as they acquired the recently traded Holiday from the Blazers for Malcolm Brogdon, Robert Williams III, and two first-round picks—one, a 2024 first via the Golden State Warriors and the other, an unprotected 2029 first from the Celtics.
Word spread all over, with many dubbing the Celtics the now favorites to win the Eastern Conference, if not naming them the title favorites. Meanwhile, for those focused on how this impacts the Philadelphia 76ers, the deal was an instant gut punch that left many wondering how the team, and especially their franchise player, would respond to the news.
They did not have to wait long as reigning MVP Joel Embiid broke his short silence within the hour with a tweet that immediately made waves across the league.
As those following the Sixers can attest to, this offseason has, in fact, not been fun for anyone involved, literally or emotionally, with the organization—the one exception perhaps being James Harden, who appears to have been enjoying himself more than most this summer.
With Harden’s trade demand still holding the Sixers hostage in many ways, there has been little opportunity for the type of excitement those in Boston, Milwaukee, and Phoenix have delighted in this summer.
What’s even more unsettling is the recent bio change made by Embiid. Long known by the alias “Troel,” Embiid has officially removed the alternate name from his Twitter account. It seems clear that Embiid is feeling some frustration—well deserved at that—at the situation, as are most fans of the Sixers.
The Sixers did not have an honest chance at acquiring Holiday when considering what the Celtics sent to complete the trade, but that’s not exactly the point either. While the Sixers may not have had the assets to acquire either Lillard or Holiday, the fact that they did not have the assets to begin with is itself a valid reason for frustration.
Whether it be sacrificing draft capital to get off of poorly decided contracts, the telegraphed James Harden trade, the clear lack of value the franchise has placed on second-round picks—yes, they do matter, or the stalemate the team now finds themselves in with the one star they have to partner with Embiid, at every turn the organization has struggled to manage assets in a way that would allow them to compete in trade talks as other contenders across the league have.
Joel Embiid has every right to be frustrated with the organization based on their decisions, both past and present. How far we are from the tipping point for the reigning MVP, time will tell.