An epic collapse from Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 5 of their NBA Playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks has the team on the brink of elimination.
Boasting a 70-44 lead with less than nine minutes remaining in the third quarter, the 76ers gave it all up in front of their home fans at Wells Fargo Center.
They now head to Atlanta down 3-2 in the series with far more questions than answers. In fact, Joel Embiid and Seth Curry were the only Sixers players to hit on a field goal in the second half. Ben Simmons? Well, the enigmatic star has not even attempted a field goal in the fourth quarter over the past two games.
What does all of this have to do with the theme of the article you’re reading? It’s rather simple. Embiid can’t be happy about staring down yet another playoff collapse.
There’s a darn good chance he’ll make this unhappiness known during the summer, potentially leading to trade rumors surrounding the NBA MVP finalist. Getting ahead of the curve on that, we look at five ideal Joel Embiid trade scenarios.
Joel Embiid trade to the Portland Trail Blazers
- Trail Blazers get: Joel Embiid, George Hill
- 76ers get: C.J. McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic, Anfernee Simons, two first-round picks, two pick swaps
Can embattled Blazers general manager Neil Olshey pacify franchise cornerstone Damian Lillard? That’s the biggest question in the pacific northwest following the Blazers’ fourth first-round NBA Playoff exit in five years and the firing of longtime head coach Terry Stotts. Simply put, Portland must find Lillard more help if it expects the loyal guard to remain with the team long-term.
This hypothetical trade, pairs Lillard up with Embiid to build an inside-out game in Portland. If the Blazers are able to re-sign Norman Powell in free agency, that would give the an elite trio to help ascend the standings out west. Meanwhile, Philadelphia brings in an All-Star caliber guard in McCollum, a starting center with Nurkic and a young two-guard with a ton of potential. Add in the draft pick assets, and the 76ers would be in position to pull off a blockbuster trade for another star.
Joel Embiid trade to the Minnesota Timberwolves
- Timberwolves get: Joel Embiid
- 76ers get: Karl-Anthony Towns, Jarrett Culver, Naz Reid, two first-round picks
The Wolves might be committed to Towns as a franchise cornerstone. But let’s get one thing straight. Embiid is a vastly superior player on both ends of he court. Here’s a dude who averaged 28.5 points and 10.6 rebounds during the regular season. Those are Shaquille O’Neal numbers. Oh, did we mention that he earned All-NBA Defensive Team honors and was an MVP finalist? Teaming Embiid up with D’Angelo Russell and Rookie of the Year snub Anthony Edwards would make Minnesota instant contenders.
As for Philadelphia, they take a chance that the 25-year-old Towns returns to All-Star form after two ho-hum seasons. Meanwhile, Culver is a former lottery pick with upside and Reid has starter potential in the low-post. Perhaps, the two could also be packaged with draft pick assets acquired in this hypothetical trade for another star to team up with Towns.
Joel Embiid trade to the Indiana Pacers
- Pacers get: Joel Embiid, George Hill
- 76ers get: Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner, Justin Holiday, two first-round picks
Pacers president Kevin Pritchard made it clear recently that he’s not going to blow their core up following the firing of head coach Nate Bjorkgren after one disastrous season in that role. It makes sense. Indiana still has a talented group of players. However, the possibility of acquiring someone like Joel Embiid rarely presents itself. Moving Sabonis, Turner and multiple first-round picks to team him up with Malcolm Brogdon and an underrated T.J. Warren would make sense.
Philadelphia, on the other hand, retools on the fly rather than opting to rebuild. Sabonis has earned an All-Star appearance each of the past two seasons and is among the most-skilled bigs in the game. Turner is a stout defender in the low-post and Holiday would provide much-needed shooting out on the perimeter. Like with every other hypothetical trade, this would also net Philly multiple draft picks to give front office head Daryl Morey flexibility in roster-building.
Joel Embiid trade to the Golden State Warriors
- Warriors get: Joel Embiid, Seth Curry
- 76ers get: Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, James Wiseman, Eric Paschall, three first-round picks
This is not coming out of left field. The Warriors are going to be linked to every big-name star on the trade block during the summer. After falling just short of the playoffs this past season, Klay Thompson will return to the mix with MVP finalist Stephen Curry. It’s time that Golden State attempts to make one final run at championship contention before Curry and Thompson find themselves past their prime. Adding Embiid to the mix with the Splash Brothers and All-NBA Defensive Team performer Draymond Green would make the Warriors top-end title contenders. Reuniting Steph and Seth wouldn’t hurt either.
This specific trade nets Philadelphia a potential franchise building block in the talented James Wiseman. The team also grabs a vastly improved former first-round pick in Jordan Poole who has starting potential at the two-guard position. This doesn’t even take into account three-and-D wing Andrew Wiggins, who might actually be a better player than Ben Simmons right now. Let that sink in.
Joel Embiid trade to the Los Angeles Lakers
- Lakers get: Joel Embiid, George Hill, Anthony Tolliver
- 76ers get: Anthony Davis, Talen Horton-Tucker, Kyle Kuzma, two first-round picks
Now this would be the blockbuster trade to end all blockbuster trades. Is it likely? No. But we love reckless speculation over here at Sportsnaut and are all about the NBA world burning down. Fresh off a first-round exit in the NBA Playoffs, the Lakers need to rethink what they are doing behind LeBron James. For his part, Davis is coming off an injury-plagued season and did not look anything like the star player he was in his first campaign in Los Angeles.
For the Lakers, adding Embiid to the mix with King James would give them the single-best duo in the Western Conference. It wouldn’t be that close. In turn, Philadelphia nabs a generational talent in Davis as well as two starter-caliber players in Horton-Tucker and Kuzma. It could work.