The Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks were both eliminated in the second round of the NBA Playoffs. However, the two teams could be headed in very different directions this offseason with NBA MVP Joel Embiid at the center of it.
Philadelphia fired head coach Doc Rivers after its second-round exit, with All-Star guard James Harden reportedly pushing the move. However, Harden is opting out of his contract and is expected to sign a multi-year deal with the Houston Rockets.
- Joel Embiid stats (2022-’23): 33.1 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.7 BPG, .259 WS/48
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Facing the increasing likelihood of Harden walking in free agency and at the early stages of a coaching search, there is uncertainty regarding the 76ers’ future and Embiid’s desire to remain in Philadelphia. Unsurprisingly, many around the league are fueling the NBA trade rumors connecting the Knicks to the reigning MVP.
According to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, the Knicks have been connected to Embiid since midseason and many around the NBA believe New York’s interest in acquiring him will only intensify this summer.
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- Joel Embiid contract: Four years, $196 million
Embiid has likely been on the Knicks’ radar for years, but he loves Philadelphia and the organization has taken an all-in approach to build around him. However, the 76ers haven’t reached the Eastern Conference Finals since 2001 and Embiid is developing a reputation for falling short in the postseason.
Related: New York Knicks closely watching Joel Embiid’s situation with 76ers
After shooting 54.8 percent from the field and averaging 33.1 points per game during the regular season, Embiid’s averages fell to 43.1 percent from the field with a 23.7 scoring average in the playoffs. He’s also repeatedly either been sidelined or limited by injuries throughout his postseason career.
However, he would provide New York with a future Hall of Famer who could be the biggest star at Madison Square Garden. Embiid would also complement Jalen Brunson nicely and with the Knicks’ depth, they would become one of the favorites to win the NBA Finals for several years.
The 76ers won’t part ways with Embiid unless he demands a trade, which isn’t on the table as of now. However, the Knicks are clearly watching the situation closely and it’s possible one of the best players in basketball requests a trade if Harden leaves this summer.