Rival Big Man Talks ‘Very Personal’ Matchup With Sixers’ Joel Embiid

On August 16, Brooklyn Nets center Nicolas Claxton was asked about what it was like to dunk on Joel Embiid. Claxton gave a very genuine answer, and not just on what it’s like to dunk on the Philadelphia 76ers star.

“How’s it feel to dunk on Joel Embiid” ?

Nets Nic Claxton – “It felt good that’s a matchup I take very personal”. pic.twitter.com/hEtW5glopd

— NetsKingdom 👑🗽 (@NetsKingdomAJ) August 16, 2023

“It felt good. That’s a matchup that I take very personal. Any MVP-caliber player, especially in my position, when I go out, and my competitive juices, they get going.”

Claxton dunked on Embiid multiple times during Game 3 of the first-round matchup between the Sixers and Nets in the 2023 NBA Playoffs. The first one led to both Claxton stepping over Embiid and Embiid trying to kick him in the groin in response. The sequence of events led to a scuffle between the two.

Claxton was assessed a technical foul, while Embiid was assessed a flagrant 1 foul for what they had done. When Claxton dunked over Embiid again during that same game, Claxton was assessed a second technical foul for making a mean mug at Embiid, which led to his ejection.

From what he said at the basketball camp and from that game alone, it’s clear dunking on Embiid means a lot to Claxton.

Rockets Mentioned as Possible Suitor for Joel Embiid

On the August 14 of “The Athletic NBA Show,” Kelly Iko mentioned that should Embiid want off the Sixers, the Houston Rockets may be interested because of Embiid’s rapport with a former Sixers assistant.

“Another team [to watch] is Houston, just because of the bond between Joel and Ime [Udoka],” Iko said. “Maybe in the next year or so… because obviously, if Joel stays this season and plays it out, that’s one thing.

Iko added a division rival who would also be entered in Embiid.

“But moving forward, I do think New York and Houston are the two teams to watch if Joel said, ‘I want to leave, too.’”

For now, this is not a bridge the Sixers have to cross, but if they do, and if the Rockets are interested in Embiid, they have multiple assets to offer the Sixers for him with some of the young talent they have, including Jabari Smith Jr., Amen Thompson, Jalen Green, and Aleperen Sengun. They also wouldn’t have to face Embiid four times a season if they traded him to a division rival like the Knicks as opposed to be the Rockets.

Joel Embiid ‘Still Happy’ to Be a Sixer

With all the drama that’s been going on with James Harden, Embiid caused a stir of his own when he removed the Sixers from his X bio. However, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported on 97.5 “The Fanatic” that Embiid is still happy to be with the team and that this is simply his MO.

“He is happy to be a Sixer,” Shelburne said. “I don’t think this is a precursor to something. I think this is Joel Troel,” which is in reference to Embiid calling himself Joel “Troel” Embiid on his X bio.

As it stands, there have been no trade requests from Embiid and no reports of him being unhappy. If the Sixers fail to make any progress in the near future, that could become a risk.

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