Sixers must learn from Eagles handling of Carson Wentz

Eliot Shorr-Parks
February 12, 2020 - 8:48 am
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From the second you walk into the NovaCare, there is absolutely no doubt as to who the most important person in that complex is. 

A picture of him leading the huddle is right there as you walk through the player entrance. A huge image of him is plastered along the inside of the team’s practice bubble. There is even a massive poster of him hanging outside of Lincoln Financial Field. 

The message is clear — this franchise is Carson Wentz, and it shows in more than just the artwork the team chooses, as the Eagles have done everything in their power since drafting him No. 2 overall to make him successful. 

Each hire the team has made has been with Wentz in mind. It is no coincidence they almost exclusively hire coaches on the offensive side of the ball with a quarterback background, and that they have kept promoting Wentz's good friend Press Taylor.  They have invested the majority of their resources in putting talent around him. They surrounded him with an expensive, veteran offensive line. They drafted Mile Sanders and Dallas Goedert while also having Zach Ertz and Jordan Howard. At receiver the Eagles had one of the highest payrolls in the league last year, then also went out and used a second-round pick on a receiver as well. They made Wentz, even coming off of a fractured back and torn ACL, the highest paid player in the NFL. 

Not all of those moves worked out, but the blueprint is clear — each decision the team makes begins-and-ends with how it will impact Wentz and how it will help him succeed.

Coming off of not only the events of the last 48 hours, but the last few months overall, the Sixers need to ask themselves a similar and important question — are they doing the same for Joel Embiid?

There is no denying that Embiid is supremely talented, dominant player when he is at his best. That much was clear on Tuesday night when he finished with 27 points, nine rebounds, two assists, two threes and one block in the Sixers’ much-needed win over the Los Angeles Clippers. 

What is also clear is that the team’s decisions over the last few months have lead to Embiid seeming unhappy, frustrated and upset the majority of this season. 

Let’s take a look at some of the decisions the Sixers have made leading up to Embiid’s Instagram exchange with Jimmy Butler on Monday night: 

*** Fired the general manager that arguably saved his career, Sam Hinkie, and was building a team around his franchise player. 

*** Signed Embiid to a contract that would allow the team to "cut Embiid and save money if he misses significant time due to specific injuries."

*** Let Jimmy Butler, a player Embiid was very close with and enjoyed playing with, go to Miami

*** Didn’t re-sign the best shooter on the team, J.J. Redick, and didn’t replace him. 

*** Signed a player that played Embiid’s position, Al Horford, to a four-year, $109 million deal. That move has worked out so well that Horford had to be removed from the starting lineup on Tuesday night, and the two players were only on the court for a total of 10 minutes. 

*** Continue to pair Embiid with a point guard in Ben Simmons that doesn’t shoot from outside the paint, which has not only impacts how Embiid has to play, but has frustrated him so much that he been forced to come up with multiple, polite ways to express his displeasure with it through the media. 

Individually you can look at each move and explain it to a certain level, but put together, they add to up an overall situation that has left their franchise player frustrated and surrounded by players that don’t let him be the best version of himself. 

Embiid is good enough when he is at his best that it might not matter come playoff time, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Sixers have done a poor job setting him up to succeed, and Embiid’s frustration with that lead to him responding to Butler’s recruitment to Miami over Instagram. 

To save what seems to be a very combustable situation, the Sixers need to start making Embiid the focus, just like the Eagles do with Wentz. Maybe Wentz won’t lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl, but at least the team is doing everything they can to give him a chance to. 

The Sixers are not doing the same with Embiid, and if they don’t start making him the top priority soon, there will be plenty more moments like the one on Monday night — and those moments will add up to Embiid finding his way to a franchise that will. 

You can follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!

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