Joel Embiid has not decided whether he will play international basketball for the U.S. or France, but he is unlikely to play at the August-September FIBA World Cup because he is getting married this summer, the French national team coach reportedly said Saturday.
French coach Vincent Collett said that if Embiid, an NBA MVP finalist for the Philadelphia 76ers, does not play in the World Cup, he will have more time to decide which country to potentially play for at the 2024 Paris Olympics, according to French media.
Embiid was born in Cameroon, but has never played in a major international tournament and has not yet publicly committed to any national team.
Last year, he reportedly gained French and American citizenship. Cameroon didn’t qualify for the World Cup, making it unlikely that it qualifies for the Olympics, so it’s expected that Embiid will choose between the U.S. and France.
Collett’s comments Saturday were published after the draw was made for the World Cup, which will be co-hosted by Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines.
Embiid’s nationality decision could have a significant impact on the 2024 Olympic men’s tournament.
At the Tokyo Games, a French team led by another center, Rudy Gobert, handed the U.S. its first Olympic defeat since 2004. That was in group play. The Americans then beat the French in the gold-medal game 87-82.
That France team had five NBA players to the U.S.’ 12: Nicolas Batum, Evan Fournier, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Frank Ntilikina and Gobert.
France has another 7-footer, 19-year-old Victor Wembanyama, who is expected to be the No. 1 pick in June’s NBA Draft.
A France team with three premier 7-footers could spell trouble for the U.S., which could be thin at center.
Anthony Davis, who skipped the Tokyo Olympics, is the lone American to make an All-NBA first, second or third team at center in the last five seasons. In that time, Embiid made four All-NBA second teams and Gobert made three All-NBA third teams.
No Olympic team other than the U.S. has ever had two reigning All-NBA players on its roster.
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