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Report: USA Basketball Wants To Make A Run At Joel Embiid And Prevent Him From Playing For France

Philadelphia 76ers superstar Joel Embiid earned both U.S. and French citizenship, which grants him eligibility to suit up for either country in international play rather than solely his native Cameroon. According to Marc Stein, Embiid, who has never played in a senior-level FIBA circuit, is “eager” to play for a team other than Cameroon and “presumably would love to sample life in the global spotlight on the Olympic stage.”

“Sources say that Embiid has already engaged in discussions with longtime NBA forward Boris Diaw, who serves as the general manager of the French national team, about joining Les Bleus,” Stein wrote.

However, Team USA is making a run at Embiid, according to Stein. Last summer, France and the U.S. met in the Olympic final, with the U.S. narrowly winning, 87-82. During the group stage, France snapped a 25-game Olympic winning streak for the U.S. with a 83-76 victory. The U.S. sits atop the FIBA rankings, while France, who lost to second-ranked Spain in last month’s EuroBasket final, is fifth.

“Keeping Embiid away from France, when it will have homecourt advantage at the next Olympics, is merely just one natural USAB justification for the pursuit. There is likewise the sobering reality that the center position has been a consistent source of vulnerability for the program in recent years,” Stein wrote. “JaVale McGee, for example, was the only recognized center on the Tokyo squad, although Bam Adebayo certainly knows his way around the 5 spot. In slumping to a humbling seventh at the 2019 World Cup in China, Coach Gregg Popovich struggled to generate any reliability out of the Brook Lopez/Mason Plumlee/Myles Turner trio.”

Embiid would be a tremendous addition for either of these squads. He could help propel France to a 2023 World Cup or 2024 Olympics crown — imagine, for a moment, an Embiid/Rudy Gobert/Victor Wembanyama frontcourt — or he could help Team USA bounce back from its seventh-place 2019 World Cup finish and defend its four straight Olympic championships. Regardless, the thought of international teams essentially trying to land Embiid as though he’s a premier NBA free agent is a hilarious concept. Is he fielding meetings in the Hamptons?