The Philadelphia 76ers had yet another disappointing end to their season. This time to the hands of their long-time rival, the Boston Celtics, in the form of a 1st Round sweep. While this unfortunate ending does not bode well for Philly, there is a major factor that cannot be glossed over. Ben Simmons did not play a single playoff game after having surgery to repair a partially dislocated patella in his left knee. While losing your point guard that started in this year’s All-Star game provides a valid excuse, it does not overshadow the constant questions of whether the two Sixers All-Stars can continue to co-exist.
A recent tweet from Joel Embiid left NBA twitter once again wondering just how serious the known twitter-troll was being.
It’s easy for Sixer hopefuls to direct this tweet back to Embiid’s Hulu commercial in which he is “really unhappy” about the unoriginal gifs being used to celebrate himself. However, the timing of the tweet warrants some suspicion. Embiid had already been sent home by the Celtics, and the tweet came during Game 2 of the Miami Heat vs Milwaukee Bucks series. A series that prominently features a former teammate of Embiid’s: Jimmy Butler.
The same teammate Embiid tweeted about in Game 1 of this series.
Embiid Trade Possibilities
Disclaimer. I don’t expect any one of these trades to happen more than another, or any trade at all for that matter. This is a piece centered around if the Sixers decide to blow it up. That’s a big if situation that we dove into a little presumptuously. Because why not.
Atlanta Becomes Playoff Lock
Sixers Receive: Clint Capela, Cam Reddish, Bruno Fernando, #6 pick 2020, 2022 1st Rd (via OKC)
Hawks Receive: Joel Embiid, Furkan Korkmaz
This trade benefits both teams in a way. The Hawks benefit instantly by getting a Top 10 player in the league to pair with their young All-Star point guard, Trae Young. The young trio of Young, John Collins, and Joel Embiid makes this team an instant playoff contender in the East for years to come. This trade allows them to maintain some young role players with high upside, including Kevin Huerter and De’Andre Hunter, while simultaneously putting them in contender conversations within a couple seasons.
The Sixers on the other hand gain another starting caliber center in Capela, while still hitting the reset button before Simmons ages out of his prime. The addition of Cam Reddish provides more youth and versatility at the forward position. Reddish did not have the type of breakout rookie season that some expected of him, but remember, it was just that: a rookie season. He still possesses the tools to become a difference maker on either side of the ball. Most importantly, he is young enough to grow with Simmons and the new Sixers core. A core that will be greatly aided by the two additional 1st Round picks within three seasons they also acquire in this hypothetical trade. A frontcourt consisting of Tobias Harris, Simmons, and Al Horford also holds the potential to allow breakout guard Shake Milton to develop into an essential part of this team. Added benefit, this combination of youth and All-Star talent makes Philly a prime free agent destination for the foreseeable future.
ATL: Trae Young | Kevin Huerter | De’Andre Hunter | John Collins | Joel Embiid
Embiid Heads West, Sixers Reload
Sixers Receive: Steven Adams, Dennis Schroder, Terrance Ferguson, #25 pick 2020, 2022 1st Rd, 2023 1st Rd pick swap (via LAC), 2024 1st Rd (via HOU)
Thunder Receive: Joel Embiid, Josh Richardson, #58 pick 2020
This swap allows both teams to continue in their respective directions without fully hitting the reset button.
Philly gains another starting-caliber center that does not need the ball in his hands offensively to contribute. Adams has some cans of his own, but this big man swap officially hands the reigns to Ben Simmons. No one could question that this is his team to lead in this scenario.
They also gain a proven point guard ready to prove himself. Schroder proved this season that he can both come off the bench behind Chris Paul, or play alongside the primary playmaker and still succeed. This bodes well for the rumors that surfaced of the Sixers moving Simmons to the power forward position pre-injury. Schroder and Milton make for a backcourt full of offensive firepower, while the growth of Matisse Thybulle would go a long way in complementing the two guards on the defensive end of the court.
This all comes without even mentioning the four first round draft picks over the next five drafts the Sixers acquire in this deal, including a pick swap with the Clippers in 2023.
Oklahoma City on the other hand would part ways with their fan-favorite New Zealander for a Top 2 center in the league. This also allows for savvy veteran, Chris Paul, and rising star, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, to have pick and roll/pick and pop opportunities every time down the court.
OKC also dumps part of their log jam at the point guard position in order to add a starting caliber combo wing player in Richardson. The emergence of Luguentz Dort has been a welcome sight for Thunder fans, and pairing a proven two-way wing with the rising fan-favorite is a scary thought.
OKC: Chris Paul | Shai Gilgeous-Alexander | Josh Richardson | Danilo Gallinari | Joel Embiid
PHI: Dennis Schroder | Shake Milton | Tobias Harris | Ben Simmons | Steven Adams
Houston Abandons Small Ball
Sixers Receive: Eric Gordon, Robert Covington, 2022 1st Rd
Rockets Receive: Joel Embiid
If the Rockets’ small ball experiment does not get them past the Lakers this year, its reasonable to think they might abandon the strategy. Especially if head coach Mike D’Antoni is let go. In this scenario, we’re assuming both happened and management is looking in a new direction. They get their super star center to create the best big three in the league with Embiid, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden. They lose two of their key pieces from the 2020 season, but this is a now-or-never, all chips on the table type of move for Houston.
Philly on the other hand acquires two day-one starts/6th man caliber players, and another 1st Round pick. This opens up opportunity for Al Horford to slide back into the center role. It also allows far more room for Simmons to work with, and more importantly, more shooters to mask his deficiencies.
PHI: Ben Simmons | Eric Gordon | Robert Covington | Tobias Harris | Al Horford
Embiid Takes His Talents to South Beach
Sixers Receive: Andre Iguodala, Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo
Heat Receive: Joel Embiid, 2021 1st Rd (via PHI)
This trade seems less likely to happen than some of the other scenarios, but Embiid’s relationship with Butler makes it a viable option. The Heat are unlikely to part ways with their first time All-Star and standout rookie after such a successful season, especially if they manage to knock off the Bucks in the conference semifinals. However, they would be getting a Top 10 player in return, as well as a potential top pick in 2021. The second-chance duo of Butler and Embiid would have a sky-high ceiling playing alongside the other role players currently in Miami.
The Sixers instantly replace Embiid with an All-Star big. One even perhaps more capable of playing alongside Al Horford than Embiid was. They acquire shooting and youth from Herro, and veteran leadership and defense from Iguodala. This deal improves the Sixers depth, shooting, and versatility. The biggest loss might turn out to be the 2021 pick.
PHI: Ben Simmons | Tyler Herro | Tobias Harris | Al Horford | Bam Adebayo
Sixers Receive: Kemba Walker, Daniel Theis
Celtics Receive: Joel Embiid, Mike Scott
This would be a last resort type of trade for the surging Celtics. They give up their newly acquired All-Star point guard and rising center, but they gain a Top 10 player. Embiid could potentially be the missing piece if the Celtics fail to make the Finals this season. His resume speaks for itself. They also gain a versatile forward in Scott that can fill out a 3&D role off the bench.
Kemba being shipped to his 3rd team in three years would not be ideal, but Philly’s size and well-rounded team would provide a suitable home for the All-Star point guard. This move would allow the Sixers to move Simmons to power forward like they’ve already considered doing. Daniel Theis is also an interesting prospect. He’s been the perfect counter-part to the Celtics’ stars, and he has potential to fill the same role in Philly. Theis would be on the receiving end of passes from both Simmons and Walker. An ideal combo for the pick-and-roll oriented big man.
PHI: Kemba Walker | Josh Richardson | Tobias Harris | Ben Simmons | Daniel Theis
Bonus Trade – Blockbuster Reload
MIL Receives: Paul George, Tobias Harris, Ivica Zubac
LAC Receives: Joel Embiid, Eric Bledsoe, 2021 1st Rd (via PHI)
PHI Receives: Khris Middleton, Patrick Beverley, Brook Lopez, 2022 2nd Rd (via MIL)
Again, this is a just for fun, all chips on the table, everyone available type of trade. Speculation for speculation sake.
Milwaukee reloads with three starting caliber players. Replacing Middleton with Paul George, and swapping Bledsoe and Lopez for Harris and Zubac. They lose shooting at the center position, but gain youth and potential on both ends of the court. The biggest loss for the Bucks in this scenario is their starting point guard. Thankfully, they still have George Hill and a plethora of backup guards, including Donte DiVincenzo, to fill that void. Bucks get bigger, longer, and younger.
The Clippers lose one sidekick and gain another. How Embiid and Kawhi Leonard mesh would be a major question mark. However, we’ll table team chemistry for the time being. The Clippers get their big man. They get a proven All Star in the paint to counter Leonard’s exterior attack. They also replace Beverley, with Bledsoe. Beverley impacts the game beyond the stat sheet, but it’s hard to ignore the upgrade from a number’s perspective. Bledsoe is a capable defender and a powerful offensive weapon. For giving up three starts, LAC also earns a 1st Round pick for the 2021 draft via PHI. This is a hot commodity in LA considering all of their 1st Round picks now belong to OKC.
Philly not only ships out Embiid, but also the major contract that is Tobias Harris. Essentially, the swap Harris for Middleton, an immediate upgrade on the wing. Then they trade Embiid for Lopez, Beverley, and a 2nd Round pick. In this scenario, Philly ships out the best player in the entire deal, but gets three starters for the price of two, and 2nd Round pick. This allows Simmons to become the undoubted leader of the team while simultaneously moving to his more natural power forward position. The defense doesn’t lose much as they gain a shot blocker in Lopez, length in Middleton, and…well Patrick Beverley.
MIL: George Hill | Paul George | Tobias Harris | Giannis Antetokounmpo | Ivica Zubac
PHI: Patrick Beverley | Josh Richardson | Khris Middleton | Ben Simmons | Brook Lopez