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Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid has never been one to shy away from voicing his genuine opinion. 

Following a second-round series loss to the Miami Heat in the 2022 NBA Playoffs, Embiid ranted about one of the players on the other team, PJ Tucker.

“You look at someone like PJ Tucker — great player — but it’s not about him knocking down shots,” said Embiid. “It’s about what he does, whether it’s on the defensive end or rebounding the ball. You look at, obviously, defensively, he plays with so much energy, believes that he can get from point A to point B, and he believes that no one can beat him. And he’s tough. He’s just physical, and he’s tough.”

In Embiid’s eyes, the Sixers’ series loss to the Heat could be attributed to a lack of toughness. While the 76ers knew they were a talented bunch, there was a void of “tough guys” on the team, in Embiid’s honest opinion.

“Since I’ve been here, I’d be lying if I said that we’ve had those types of guys,” Embiid explained. “Nothing against what we have; it’s just the truth. We never had PJ Tucker. That’s really what I’m trying to say.”

Fast forward a few months later, and the Sixers have PJ Tucker. After the veteran forward declined his player option with the Heat, Tucker was set to become a free agent. From the moment Tucker became available, it seemed he was trending toward joining the Sixers. In the opening minutes of free agency, Tucker inked a multi-year deal with Philadelphia, completing what he considered a move that was years in the making.

To no surprise, the move satisfied the MVP runner-up, Joel Embiid.

“Obviously, playing against PJ, I thought if you don’t wanna mention Jimmy (Butler), I thought PJ was one of the X-factors that really had a big impact for [the Heat] against us,” said Embiid on Monday afternoon during his media day press conference. “Obviously, Daryl went out and did his job.”

By adding Tucker, the Sixers satisfied several needs. One, they added an enforcer who brings toughness to a squad that lacked the necessary energy in the playoffs. Two, the Sixers upgrade from beyond the arc, which is a great sign considering you can never have too many shooters in today’s NBA.

And lastly, the move to add Tucker satisfies the face of the franchise. In previous seasons, many were skeptical over the idea that Philadelphia’s front office struggled to sign players that complement Joel Embiid. Considering he’s the team’s top star, Embiid’s requests should hold a lot of weight — and publicly urging the front office to land Tucker ended up working out. 

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for All76ers, a Sports Illustrated channel. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.