Joel Embiid isn't closing the door on a Ben Simmons return.
The Philadelphia 76ers big man discussed his teammate who has yet to play in a game this season during a discussion with Mike Missanelli of 97.5 The Fanatic (h/t Sixers reporter Derek Bodner) and said his primary focus is on winning.
"I mean, honestly, I'm trying to win," Embiid said. "I'm trying to win a championship. Whatever's gonna help me achieve that, I'm fine with whatever. I've always said that, obviously, we're a better team with him on the floor."
Embiid also opened up about how he believes the entire ordeal is "deeper" than some of the criticisms Simmons received after the 76ers lost to the Atlanta Hawks in the second round of the playoffs last season:
Derek Bodner @DerekBodnerNBA
Joel Embiid when asked by <a href="https://twitter.com/MikeMiss25?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MikeMiss25</a> whether anything could have been done differently after the Hawks series to prevent the Simmons situation:<br><br>"I mean, the only thing I can think about is the comments...But I really believe that it's really deeper than that." <a href="https://t.co/UyL5MU2IEs">pic.twitter.com/UyL5MU2IEs</a>
The comments Embiid mentioned came from both him and head coach Doc Rivers after Philadelphia lost Game 7.
Rivers told reporters "I don't know the answer to that question right now" when he was asked if a team could win a championship with Simmons as its point guard. Meanwhile, Embiid told reporters the "turning point" in the loss came when Simmons decided to pass up an open dunk opportunity when the game was still hanging in the balance.
Simmons struggled throughout that series at the free-throw line, and the Hawks stopped guarding him on the perimeter for extended stretches to cut off opportunities for Embiid and others elsewhere on the court.
The playoff defeat eventually gave way to an offseason of trade discussions and questions about whether Simmons would even suit up for the team.
Sam Amick of The Athletic reported in September that Simmons thought his time as a one-two punch with Embiid had "run its course." Shams Charania of The Athletic then reported in October that Simmons met with Rivers and his teammates and said he was not yet ready to play again in Philadelphia.
The 76ers are winning without him at 32-21, which is good enough for the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference and just 1.5 games behind the top-seeded Miami Heat in an extremely tight race.
While Simmons may not return to the court for the team this season, Philadelphia could trade him prior to Thursday's deadline to get some more help around the dominant Embiid.
The big man said he just wants to win a title, whether with Simmons or someone else.