Give Philadelphia star Joel Embiid points for speaking his mind.
Following the 76ers’ season-ending Game 6 loss to the Miami Heat in which James Harden scored just 11 points and none in the second half, Embiid said, "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."
That’s not who he is anymore. Ouch.
It's one thing for critics to say that. It’s another when his teammate says it.
Whether Embiid intended that as a slight is irrelevant. It can be interpreted as such — just as Embiid’s comments about former Sixers guard Ben Simmons immediately after Philadelphia’s loss to Atlanta in last season’s playoffs were.
"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."
Joel Embiid on James Harden 😳pic.twitter.com/nfzMkupXvh
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) May 13, 2022
Who knows if there will be any fallout from Embiid’s comment, but this much remains true: for another season, the Sixers — for lots of reasons — fell short of their goal, and the trade deadline deal for Harden yielded nothing more than another disappointing second-round exit.
Harden averaged 18.6 points, 8.6 assists and 5.7 rebounds and shot 40.5% from the field and 36.8% on 3-pointers in the playoffs. Against Miami, he scored 20 points or more just twice and had just 14 and 11 in two losses at the end of the series.
Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Joel Embiid says Houston James Harden 'not who he is anymore'