Execs Prep for Possible Embiid Trade: Who has the Assets?
(Photo: USA Today)
A recent post on the RealGM website reported some interesting soundbites from a Brian Windhorst podcast. Specifically Windy claimed that one of the current "conversations" among executives is if Joel Embiid will be "potentially coming to market."
The speculation seems premature. Although the Sixers have underperformed this year, their collection of elite talent is evident. Yet, it is also undeniable that some of their best basketball has been played when Embiid is off the court and fellow star Ben Simmons can run the point alongside spacing teammates.
Embiid is a top tier talent who could feasibly win MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. His injury risk is worth it and it may be foolish to even flirt with the idea of shipping him away. Still, trade ideas are fun and the last time I checked, having fun is usually a good thing. So, let's consider some potential landing spots for the All-NBA center.
The Boston Celtics should be mentioned. If Gordon Hayward re-signs or opts into his contract, the Cs could swap a wing, intriguing young assets like Grant Williams or Romeo Langford, and future picks for Embiid. Yet, don't count on the Sixers handing their division rival a superteam.
You better believe the Brooklyn Nets would be interested. But do they have enough young talent to land Embiid? Probably not. Also, creating a Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Joel Embiid trio would be foolish.
Sacramento has some assets to throw around. Buddy Hield would be a fantastic fit next to Simmons. However, if you are trading away a player like Embiid then you better bring in a better haul than Hield and Marvin Bagley.
Miami has Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo to dangle, along with other hidden gems. But would Jimmy Butler want to be reunited with Joel Embiid? If so, then this team could be the frontrunner.
Bradley Beal for Joel Embiid straight up, who says no? Okay, I can already hear fans of both teams yelling at me through the Twittersphere. Hear me out.
Beal, a player in the middle of his prime who toggles between the top 12-15 players in the NBA on any given night, does not seem happy in Washington. What's more, he is a perfect fit in Philadelphia. He would space the floor for Simmons to operate but can also go and get a bucket when the game is on the line.
Embiid to Washington makes some sense too. They are locked into John Wall and his uber contract. Considering both of these players' injury history, pairing them together is risky. But what is the other option for a Wizards team that has underachieved for the past couple of seasons and projects to continue that trend if things don't change? The gamble is worth it and raises Washington's ceiling.
With sniper Danilo Gallinari set to become a free agent, a tricky sign-and-trade would have to happen. Still, pairing the power forward next to Al Horford, Josh Richardson and Tobias Harris would be an ideal lineup to maximize Simmon's effectiveness as a facilitator.
The Thunder would have to move off of Steven Adams due to roster redundancy, but that is possible. Plus, they have a treasure trove of picks to send to the Sixers as well as prospect Darius Bazley.
OKC gets to take a legitimate shot at the title with Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander running the court with Embiid. Do they have enough to entice Philadelphia? That remains the question.
Last year, we saw that it is possible for a team to win a title without an overwhelming big three. Could Portland do it with a big two? The way Damian Lillard is playing, that seems like a real possibility.
So, who would the Blazers give up? CJ McCollum would have to go. His fit would be similar to Beal's plus, he is on a long term contract as well. McCollum alone is not enough to land Embiid, though. Some combination of Anfernee Simons, Zach Collins, Nassir Little and picks would also have to be thrown in.
What was my criteria for these possible suitors? Each one had an established star who was elite at 3-point shooting. Additionally, this player would not recreate the on-court spacing issues present when Embiid and Simmons play together. Lastly, there must be the potential to throw in future picks or other young prospects.
Getting a talent similar to Embiid will be tough. His ceiling is truly one of the highest in the NBA. Look for the Sixers to explore every single route before even entertaining the idea of moving their superstar center.