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Joel Embiid commends Sixers’ front office on landing Paul George, and hopes it eases the load


Joel Embiid commends Sixers’ front office on landing Paul George, and hopes it eases the load

LAS VEGAS — Joel Embiid referenced his television appearance during the NBA Finals, when the superstar big man said he hoped the 76ers could improve their roster this summer while side-eyeing Paul George next to him on the ESPN desk.

Naturally, Embiid now believes the Sixers accomplished that goal after landing George, the perennial All-Star forward, on the first night of free agency. And now, Embiid hopes George’s firepower means the 2023 NBA Most Valuable Player will no longer need to be arguably the league’s statistically most dominant player.

“My focus is on helping [my teammates] as much as possible,” Embiid told a small group of reporters following Team USA’s first practice to prepare for the 2024 Olympics. “Making the game easy for them, so I don’t have to do a lot, like in the past years.

“It was exciting [getting George]. Obviously, that’s a great job that [the front office] did. But we’ve still got to go on the court and try to win.”

George appears to be a seamless fit alongside Embiid, the imposing and skilled big man, and Tyrese Maxey, the explosive guard with deep shooting range who became a first-time All-Star last season. George boasts the size and versatility to be a standout wing on both ends of the floor, averaging 22.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.5 steals while shooting a career-high 41.3% from three-point range for the Los Angeles Clippers last season.

Embiid, meanwhile, led the NBA in scoring in back-to-back seasons from 2021-23, and averaged a career-high 34.7 points during a 2023-24 regular season that was interrupted by a two-month recovery from knee surgery. Embiid has also developed as a playmaker in recent seasons, averaging 5.6 assists last season in coach Nick Nurse’s system that thrives on ball movement.

But Embiid has struggled to be at full health during the playoffs, including last season while coming off a torn meniscus and dealing with a mild case of Bell’s palsy. The Sixers tumbled from the third to the seventh seed during his regular-season absence, then lost a six-game first-round playoff series to the New York Knicks.

Embiid also noted that George is not the Sixers’ only offseason addition so far. Their signing of forward Caleb Martin became official Saturday. They also agreed to terms to bring back reserve center Andre Drummond, who left in the 2022 trade for James Harden, and to sign veteran sharpshooter Eric Gordon. Athletic wing Kelly Oubre Jr. will also return on a two-year deal, while Maxey agreed in principle to a five-year max extension.

» READ MORE: With playoff dynamo Caleb Martin, Sixers go from Big Three to Legit Five

Yet Embiid cautioned that this immense roster turnover means it could take time for the Sixers to gain the on-court chemistry required to challenge the defending-champion Boston Celtics and Knicks at the top of the Eastern Conference. The Sixers also have already lost Tobias Harris, Nico Batum, De’Anthony Melton, Buddy Hield, Paul Reed, and Mo Bamba during this transaction cycle.

“Obviously, everybody always has the mindset [of] winning a championship, and that’s the goal,” Embiid said. “But you’ve also got to understand it’s going to take a while for everybody to be on the same page.

“Hopefully it doesn’t take us a while and we just [have it] from the beginning, but that’s kind of rare.”

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