We’ve seen the frustration on his face. We’ve heard the Philadelphia 76ers fans boo him. We’ve watched the team struggle as a whole at times this season.
Things are not going too swimmingly for All-Star center Joel Embiid and his Sixers right now. It has led to speculation that one of the game’s most-skilled big men could be traded during the summer.
If so, I figured it made sense to give an early look at five realistic Embiid trade scenarios for the summer should a deal become imminent.
Embiid to the Pacers for Malcolm Brogdon, Myles Turner and multiple first-round picks
This deal would include Philadelphia ridding itself of Al Horford’s bloated contract while taking on the likes of T.J. Warren and Aaron Holliday as both bench options and salary fillers.
It’s a great move for Philadelphia in that depth and three-point shooting has been an issue. Brogdon is averaging 16.6 points and 7.3 assists. He’d be a perfect fit to take some of the ball-handling duties from Ben Simmons. In turn, the Sixers get a youthful big, Myles Turner, that has fallen out of favor in Indiana and a potentially lethal sixth-man in that of T.J. Warren out on the wing.
From Indiana’s perspective, it’s all about winning now. All-Stars Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo are two nice pieces. But imagine them teaming up with Embiid. We’d be talking a legit NBA title contender in 2020-21.
Embiid to the Thunder for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Steven Adams and two first-round picks
Ends to a means. That has to be the explanation around what Thunder general manager Sam Presti is building right now. OKC was thrown for a loop when Paul George requested a trade last summer. The team responded by pulling off a tremendous deal with the Clippers, bringing in the talented Gilgeous-Alexander. He could be used as a chip to acquire an even bigger-name player.
The idea here for Oklahoma City would be to get that one true star to team up with the still-impressive Chris Paul. At least for the short-term, a combo of Paul, Embiid and another acquisition this summer could be enough to contend out west.
From a Sixers perspective, they would be adding an uber-talented 21-year-old guard who is averaging nearly 20 points per game and playing efficient basketball (47% shooting). Philly would also acquire a defensive-minded Adams to fortify its front court.
Embiid to the Blazers for C.J. McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic, Trevor Ariza and two first-round picks
We already know that the Blazers are going to have to blow up their star-studded backcourt if they want to be taken seriously in the Western Conference. Even with Damian Lillard putting up some crazy numbers this season, they find themselves at 25-31 and four games out of the No. 8 seed heading into the break.
A huge move is needed in the Pacific Northwest. Teaming Lillard up with Embiid would be that move in more ways than one. Talk about an inside-out game to compete with the big boys in the conference.
On the other hand, Philadelphia adds an outside scoring threat who is capable of going for 20-plus on a nightly basis. It also picks up a center in Nurkic who was on an upward trajectory prior to suffering a devastating injury back in March of 2019. If he can return to form, this would be a tremendous move.
Embiid to the Wizards for Bradley Beal, John Wall and two first-round picks
Why in the world would Philadelphia take on Wall’s contract after he suffered a ruptured Achilles last February? After all, Wall has not suited up in a calendar year and is playing under a four-year, $171.1 million contract. The answer to that is easy. General manager Elton Brand and Co. rid themselves of Al Horford’s deal and pick up two unprotected first-round picks from Washington.
Even if Wall never returns to form, adding one of the game’s best guards to go with those two picks would change the outlook in Philadelphia. Beal, 26, is averaging 29.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 6.2 assists on 45% shooting from the field this season. He’d be a tremendous fit with Simmons.
On the other hand, Washington has to consider blowing it up big time. While giving up two first-round picks to move Wall’s contract would be a bitter pill to swallow, said contract is almost untradeable. Being able to acquire a potential franchise cornerstone in Embiid would also get fans in the nation’s capital excited about this product.
Embiid to the Jazz for Rudy Gobert, Bojan Bogdanovic, Mike Conley and two first-round picks
This is similar to the hypothetical Wizards deal from Philadelphia’s perspective. Taking on Conley’s bloated contract as a way to both move Horford and acquire draft pick assets. It makes too much sense, especially given the fact that Gobert is one of the top interior defenders in the NBA and would be a great replacement for Embiid.
Let’s not even mention the fact that Bogdanovic is in the midst of a tremendous season that’s seeing him average 21.0 points on 40% shooting from distance. Adding that type of talent to go with Simmons would make Philadelphia more balanced and legit title contenders.
Now, why would Utah do this? It’s simple. Salt Lake City has never been an attractive free-agent destination. The team has only been able to find elite talent through the draft. Given the Jazz’ success and likelihood that they will be picking in the bottom third of the first round for the foreseeable future, improvements are going to be hard. Teaming Embiid up with Donovan Mitchell would give this squad an elite one-two punch. Horford provides the inside threat that the Jazz would be missing without Gobert with a much better offensive game.