Joel Embiid on Simmons’ exit: “I just didn’t understand what was going on”

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The best part of Joel Embiid going on the Draymond Green Show was the couple of minutes of trash talk. This is classic.

But Green is good at the podcast game and got Embiid to open up about missing his first two seasons due to injury, what it took to change the culture in Philly, “the Process” nickname and more.

That includes discussing Ben Simmons sitting out this season due to mental health concerns and wanting a trade (which he eventually got to Brooklyn for James Harden). Embiid didn’t have more answers than the rest of us on the outside. Here are Embiid’s comments, hat tip to Sixers Wire.

“I just didn’t understand what was going on, honestly. I didn’t understand what happened and what led up to that whole situation. To this day, I don’t understand. Even when you look at it and I don’t have any problems with him and like I say, obviously we didn’t win the championship together, but in the regular season, we went dominant every single season. 50-win seasons, I always believed that we had a chance to win together. Like I always believed that even to this day. I believe that we had a chance to win and what we were able to accomplish obviously, winning matters the most, but I feel like we had a chance and that’s what I don’t get. I don’t understand what was going on, honestly. What caused him to want to leave. I understand his explanation, but a lot of things don’t make sense.”

After struggling very publicly in the loss to the Hawks last postseason — most famously passing up a dunk to avoid getting fouled late in Game 7 — Simmons didn’t think Embiid and coach Doc Rivers had his back. Embiid had said Simmons passing up a dunk for a pass was a turning point (which it was), and when Rivers was asked after the game if Simmons was a championship level point guard he said, “I don’t know the answer to that.”

Embiid didn’t relate to where Simmons was after those comments because they are very different people. Many players — Embiid included — would have used those words as fuel to improve, come back, and prove everyone wrong. Simmons seemed to internalize it, take it as a personal insult that could not be easily forgiven. From there, the snowball rolling down the mountain became an avalanche.

Embiid has a new partner in James Harden and the Sixers look like a potential contender, but with some defensive flaws to work out. The honeymoon may be over, but the Sixers are still in a better place than they were before the trade.

Simmons has been bothered by back issues as he ramped back up to play and Brooklyn is hopeful he can play a couple of games before the postseason begins (the Nets will start in the play-in tournament).