In an interview with Maverick Carter, Joel Embiid authored doubt about his future with the Sixers. This is the snippet that had the Philadelphia faithful riled up on Monday morning:

"I just want to win a championship. Whatever it takes. I don't know where that's going to be. Whether it's in Philly or anywhere else. I just want to have a chance to accomplish and see what it feels like to win that first one, and then you can think about the next one. It's not easy. But, it takes more than one or two, three guys."

Those words mark the first time in Embiid's career in which he publicly opened the door to the possibility of leaving the Sixers. While only Embiid knows his true intention behind giving that quote, there are ultimately two reasons players do that. First, of course, is that they have their eyes elsewhere and want to lay the foundation for a future departure. Second is that they want to apply pressure on the front office to make timely moves that improve the team.

Of course, Embiid gave this quote at a time when the Sixers find themselves in a potentially significant degree of disarray.

The James Harden trade request doesn't appear to be going away any time soon, no matter how many teammates say they want him to stick around. Embiid, of all people, knows just how important Harden was to the Sixers last season. So, he knows that the Sixers need to either keep Harden or get equal value back on a Harden deal.

Publicly, Embiid has always said that he thinks his team has a chance to win the championship; sure, some of that may be the heart of a competitor talking. He's also communicated many times that there are no safe havens in the NBA, remarking on multiple occasions that he wouldn't blame the Sixers for willingly trading him for Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. He's said he wants to play his entire career in Philadelphia.

But, Embiid finally drawing some question on whether he believes they can win is a sharp reminder to everyone - the Sixers and their fans - that he holds the key to their chances of hanging a banner. If Philadelphia's hopes and dreams are going to come crashing down early, it will be because Embiid decided he had had enough.

So, that is why the Sixers need to nail the Harden trade. That is why a season of playing the long game could ultimately be the death of this era. In some sense, Embiid issuing a butterknife threat is a refreshing change of pace. He's chosen to be an employee of the franchise he powers for far too long. It's about time he exert some pressure and use his superstar equity.

Make no mistake, Embiid needs to do some looking in the mirror in all of this. For the first time, he was the headline of why the Sixers bowed out in the Eastern Conference semifinals. He can talk all he wants about the team needing efforts from multiple guys to get the job done, but the reality is that it's Embiid's team.

The league MVP does not have the luxury of deflecting blame. Sources say that Embiid has privately taken accountability for his own poor play in the Sixers' meltdown against the Celtics. But, delivering this message with the backdrop of the Sixers' latest demise reads as someone who is running away from the fight, not towards it.

Whatever the case, Embiid made it clear that he's watching everything the Sixers are doing very closely as the Harden situation plays out. Daryl Morey and company are on the clock.

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