In what can’t be considered too much of a surprise, star Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid has been locked up for the long-term.
In extension negotiations with the Sixers since their early departure from the 2021 NBA Playoffs, Embiid inked a four-year, $196 million deal with Philadelphia on Tuesday. It was the maximum allowed under NBA rules for the reigning NBA MVP finalist.
Now that Philadelphia front office head Daryl Morey has Joel Embiid locked up long-term, the focus turns to fellow All-Star Ben Simmons.
Rumors have persisted for the past several weeks that the 76ers were going to move Simmons after he put up a stinker of a postseason performance. That was magnified recently with information that the point guard had cut off communication with the 76ers’ organization, Joel Embiid included. Below, we look at what the Embiid extension means for the franchise in Philadelphia and Mr. Simmons.
Philadelphia 76ers must optimize Joel Embiid’s prime
At 27 years old and with a history of injury issues, there’s no telling how long Embiid is going to play at his current level. The former No. 3 pick was absolutely dominant in 2020-21, averaging 28.5 points and 10.6 rebounds on 51% shooting from the field. It was the best performance of his career.
With that said, we must note that Embiid has played in a grand total of 260 games since being selected back in 2014. He missed his first two seasons to a knee injury and is averaging 52 games per season since.
Philadelphia knows full well that Embiid’s prime could come to a conclusion sooner rather than later. It must optimize said prime following a premature exit in the second round of the NBA Playoffs.
How Ben Simmons fits into the Joel Embiid equation
This is to piggyback off the previous point. Short of a drastic improvement from Simmons as a shooter, he’s not going to be that No. 2 guy to help lead Philadelphia into contention. The team’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks in last season’s playoffs was a prime example of this.
On the surface, one might conclude that moving Simmons right now makes the most sense. That’s until we realize that Philadelphia is overvaluing him on the trade market. Others the team is talking to don’t have the necessary win-now assets to help Philadelphia.
Linked to the Golden State Warriors on a near never-ending loop, any move involving Simmons would require the 76ers bringing Andrew Wiggins back in return. Golden State is seemingly unwilling to offer up 2020 No. 2 pick James Wiseman, making things more difficult in this regard. Other teams such as the San Antonio Spurs and Minnesota Timberwolves also don’t have the necessary win-now assets to help Philadelphia out.
What does this all mean? A third team would have to get involved to help facilitate a Ben Simmons trade. At this point in the summer, that seems to be a highly unlikely scenario.
Holding out for Damian Lillard
That’s the biggest backdrop here right now. Always looking for star power, Morey is holding out hope that Dame actually requests a trade from the Portland Trail Blazers. At this point, there’s no concrete evidence that this is going to happen.
From a pure fantasy standpoint, adding Lillard to the mix to team up with Embiid would be a dream come true. Unfortunately, it also complicates what is happening in Philadelphia right now. Short of the 76ers getting a haul for Simmons that they can use in a Dame trade leading up to the start of the 2021-22 season, it might be hard for Philadelphia to move its point guard. Right now, there’s no indications that Simmons is going to bring back that type of bounty. So, it seems that Philadelphia is still in a holding pattern after extending Joel Embiid.