joel embiid james harden
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to criticize Joel Embiid for his performance this season. There’s an argument that he should have won the MVP and he came back from a litany of injuries to play in this Eastern Conference Semifinals.

But even Embiid’s talent and toughness couldn’t put the Sixers over the hump this year. After Philadelphia’s Game 6 loss and subsequent elimination, Embiid talked about James Harden and Daryl Morey. His comments are telling.

“Obviously, since we got him, everybody expected the Houston James Harden, but that’s not who he is anymore. He’s more of a playmaker. I thought, at times, as with all of us, could’ve been more aggressive,” Embiid said.

Harden did his best impression of Ben Simmons in this elimination game. He finished with 11 points and only attempted two shots in the second half. Calling his performance lifeless would be an understatement. In fact, Harden looked like he cared a lot more when he was playing on one leg when Brooklyn lost to Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference Semis last season.


But Embiid wasn’t done. Who did Sixers GM Daryl Morey trade to acquire Harden? None other than Seth Curry and Andre Drummond. As it turns out, signing Curry and Drummond were Morey’s two best moves as Sixers GM.

“Since Daryl got here I think he’s done a fantastic job last year, coming in,” Embiid explained. “Obviously bringing Seth [Curry]. Seth was a huge part of what we did and bringing in Andre [Drummond], which he helped us a lot.”

Embiid threw Harden under the bus once. Then he took another bus and threw it on top of that. Thus, Harden is beneath multiple buses. Embiid is undeniably good at throwing people underneath large moving vehicles. He seems to do it every year when Philly gets bounced.

Embiid might not love it, but the Sixers are going to run it back again with this same group next year. Morey is already signing off on a Doc Rivers return even though he’s done no better than Brett Brown.

As for Harden, he will likely opt in to the final year of his deal for $47 million. Morey would be insane to give him a max extension for four years and $233 million, but who knows with those two. Morey can’t seem to quit Harden even though the Beard is willing to quit in elimination games.

NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.