one thing that Embiid has and more: A long-term financial commmitment from the Sixers. The contracts of Butler, Harris and Redick will expire at the end of this season. Simmons is signed through 2021, at which point he will be a restricted free agent in search of generational wealth.
That means that, for the next couple of months, Brown will be called to do the one task that separates the NBA requirements from the rest of those in the coaching profession. He will be made to find shots for star-level players who know, and whose agents remind them daily, that scoring is the only sure way to the elusive $190,000,000 contract.
For days, Brown has been reciting the expected script, encouraging his newer lineup to maximize the sudden opportunity to work together and win a championship. There is some of that in play. Winning is a nice fringe benefit of the job, and the way the NBA has been allowed to rot, only a certain few teams will have that opportunity. But when he made it clear that Embiid is already in the $33 million a year club and is committed to the Sixers through 2023, it seemed to be directed right into the belly of the locker room. It’s Embiid’s team. Any confusion? “It’s a good dilemma,” Brown said Sunday, before a 143-120 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. “When you’ve got talent, and you’ve got multiple targets, everybody rightfully says, ‘How’s this going to work? How is everybody going to eat?’ Some of that is on the team, figuring each other out. And a lot of it is on me, declaring roles, and how I see the design of the team. And I see it through that lens: Joel Embiid is still our crown jewel.
“I said it because I mean it,” he added. “It’s not any sort of off-sided message to the room or to you (the press). It is what it is within this topic. So I said it for those reasons.”
It was his best play. It was his only play. Already, Butler has been known to have challenged some of his offensive philosophies in private. He will want to be paid at the end of the season, and the Sixers have to consider that strongly if only to recover their investment of Robert Covington and Dario Saric for his rights. One reason Harris was available is because he soon can go free. His camp, it has been reputed, is ever aware of his shot volume. Redick, who will be 35 next season, already is at the one-year-at-a-time stage of his career. But he is shooting at a level where he will rate another $10,000,000plus deal somewhere. And Simmons, who long has been known to favor what is best for Simmons, absolutely will receive a max contract soon, if not in Philadelphia, then somewhere of his camp’s choosing.
And what was he doing, anyway, asking Magic Johnson for point-guard advice?
Sunday, everything meshed for the Sixers, delighting a crowd eager to heckle LeBron James, who barely sniffed at Josh Harris’ generous offer to be make the Sixers his team. For that, as Brown has made it clear, the team belongs to Embiid, whose MVP candidacy was