This offseason, the Philadelphia 76ers believe they had a shot to land LeBron James. After all, they were coming off a very successful 52-30 season — one that would end in the Eastern Conference semi-final against the Boston Celtics. Instead, LeBron chose the Los Angeles Lakers. But big man Joel Embiid doesn’t care about any of that.
After averaging 22.9 points and 11 rebounds per game last season, there’s only one thing on his mind. Improvement. Regardless of who plays alongside him, the big man just wants to get better. Speaking to Yahoo Sports’ Michael Lee, he breaks it down like this:
“When my season ended, there was a lot of talk about adding guys. I literally did not really care because I want to get better. I want to be better than those guys that were mentioned, if I’m not already better than them. That was my message, just going into the offseason, finally the first one healthy and able to do whatever I want. That was my goal regardless.”
That’s a great goal to have. He and Ben Simmons, who led the Sixers in win shares last season — are the core of the new 76ers. They are the present and the future. But adding LeBron James would’ve made them automatic favorites out East. And for what it’s worth, Embiid thought they had a chance.
“I thought we had a chance.” That said, Embiid admits to trying to stay out of these things. He doesn’t want to get too involved with the front office, instead choosing to keep his distance.
“I’m a player. I always felt like it’s not my job to be in the middle of all that. … I always felt like (LeBron) didn’t need my help if he was going to do it. It is whatever.”
And he, like many fans in Philly, believe the future is bright.
“We have a great group of guys. A lot of guys coming back. Last year, we won 52 games. This next year is going to be even much better with the addition of Wilson Chandler. I expect Markelle (Fultz) to be back to himself.”
Indeed the Sixers do have plenty to look forward to. That probably includes battles with the Boston Celtics for years to come. Oh, and Kawhi Leonard plays for the Toronto Raptors now. At least for this season. In other words, the top half of the Eastern Conference is going to be wild.
Especially if Embiid continues to improve.