There is trouble brewing in the Philadelphia 76ers’ locker room. Joel Embiid, the team’s best player, is taking some not-so-veiled shots at head coach Brett Brown.
Philadelphia 76ers superstar center Joel Embiid has been complaining a lot this season. It’s not unusual at all for Embiid to be mouthy, but it’s usually about the MVP award, opponents who can’t guard him or Rihanna. This year though, it’s different. Embiid is complaining about head coach Brett Brown.
It started earlier this month when Embiid seemed to complain about his role on the team since the Jimmy Butler trade. In early December, Embiid averaged just 13.7 points in a three-game stretch against the Washington Wizards, Memphis Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors. In those games, he shot an uncharacteristic 33.3 percent. For the season, he’s averaging 26.5 points per game and making 48.4 percent of his shots.
“I haven’t been myself lately. I think it’s mainly because of the way I’ve been used, which is I’m being used as a spacer, I guess, a stretch-five, which I’m only shooting  percent from three-point range. But is seems like the past couple games, like the way I play, our setup, coach always has me playing the perimeter … and it really frustrates me.”
At the time, people assumed Embiid was complaining about his role since the trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves to bring Jimmy Butler to Philadelphia, but Embiid quickly refuted that assumption. He called Pompey and told him that he had no problem with Jimmy Butler or the trade. In fact, the two stars have worked beautifully together.
It seems crystal clear now that Embiid’s criticism was aimed at Brett Brown, because he took another shot at him after the Christmas Day loss to the Boston Celtics.
“I didn’t get the ball,” Embiid told Philly.com’s David Murphy. “The ball didn’t find me in the fourth quarter and overtime, so, in those situations, I’ve got to show up, but I also have to be put in the right situations to be able to help this team.”
It was clear that Embiid was criticizing the play-calling and once again seemed frustrated about plays that place the seven-foot center far away from the basket.
One of the reasons for moving Embiid away from the basket is to clear the lane for Ben Simmons. The 76ers have a strange predicament with a point guard who can’t or won’t shoot from the outside, but has the ability to take any defender to the basket for an easy bucket. But Simmons can only do the latter if Embiid, the most dominant center in the league, gets out of the way.
If that strange dichotomy wasn’t frustrating enough, Brett Brown’s play-calling with the game on the line against the Celtics was absolutely maddening. With the game tied, and under 20 seconds left on the clock, Brown set up a last second shot for J.J. Redick. He missed.
Joel Embiid, the Sixers’ best player and one of the best rebounders in the league, was set up outside the arc. The play also iced out the team’s most clutch shooter, Jimmy Butler.
With one of the most important games of the year on the line, against the team that knocked the 76ers out of the playoffs last year, the team’s two best players were told to go stand in the corner.
When any team’s best player starts complaining about the coach, NBA history tells us it usually doesn’t turn out well for the coach — especially when the player is right.