"I always say, controversy is good," Embiid told ESPN's Rachel Nichols on Friday's episode of The Jump. "Going back from the social media—me, Jimmy, I think it's fun. There's really not much to look into it, but at the end of the day, you know, we gotta play better. I gotta play better. We gotta play better. We gotta win games. So, that's the bottom line."
Butler downplayed the ensuing speculation during an interview with NBA TV at All-Star Weekend (h/t NBC Sports Philadelphia): "To me, Joel Embiid, he's not a 76ers player. That's my brother, that's my guy. I went through the trenches with him. It has nothing to do with that. But, because I did comment, it damn near broke the Internet."
ESPN's Tim Bontemps reported Thursday on the growing drama around the Sixers potentially executing a trade after this season to break up the Embiid-Ben Simmons duo:
"There is no consensus, but league execs think that if the Sixers do explore a trade, Embiid is more likely to be moved—health being the determining factor in building around Simmons. One exec added that a big trade featuring Simmons or Embiid might be the only way to reshape the team."
An anonymous league executive added to Bontemps: "If they tried to move [Tobias Harris or Al Horford], I don't think they'd get value in return. They'd ask to be incentivized. Whereas if they move Ben or Joel, they'll get a lot more."
As things stand now, the Sixers are 35-21 to begin the second half of the season—good for fifth place in the Eastern Conference—and rank 21st in offensive rating.
Philadelphia entered last week's All-Star break on a four-game winning streak that immediately followed a four-game losing streak. The 76ers have 26 regular-season games remaining to decide which streak is truer to who they actually are entering the postseason.