There’s trouble brewing within the Philadelphia 76ers organization, and at this point, it would be very hard for them to deny the same.
For starters, the team has not exactly impressed this season, lingering at the bottom half of the Eastern Conference playoffs picture. On top of this, however, the biggest controversy of late is surrounding the team’s cornerstone superstar, Joel Embiid.
Embiid, now playing in his fourth season with the Sixers, has been bombarded with criticism from almost everywhere all season long. He has seen a slight dip in his production from last season, currently averaging 22.8 points (on 46.6 percent shooting), 12.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 0.8 steals, and 1.4 blocks, while also knocking down 1.3 triples per ballgame. These are still some undeniably outstanding numbers, but as it seems, it has not been enough for the critics.
On Sunday, Embiid was booed by his own fans during Philadelphia’s 118-111 victory against the Chicago Bulls. The Sixers struggled to outduel a lowly Bulls side, and the home fans made sure to let the team — and Embiid in particular — know that they weren’t pleased. Late in the ballgame, the 7-foot big man drained a dagger trey for the Sixers, and in his celebration, he seemed to have hushed the home crowd while also blurting out an NSFW statement for good measure.
This exchange, perhaps, was the perfect manifestation of something that has been building up over the past few months — that the Sixers faithful are now questioning Embiid’s legitimacy as the team’s cornerstone superstar for the future. The same may not be the case for Philadelphia’s front office, but according to league insiders, the buzz on a potential Embiid trade this offseason is now becoming louder and louder.
Does it make sense for the Sixers to seriously consider trading away their prized gem? Yes. Should they pull the trigger on a potential deal? Absolutely not.
Trading away a generational talent like Embiid just doesn’t make much sense. Being a top 20 talent in the league today, the Sixers aren’t likely to get a player of his caliber in exchange. Should they settle for two second-tier stars instead? This would be an indication that Philly will be handing over the reigns to Ben Simmons as the new cornerstone superstar, but is he ready/capable to take on this role?
If the Sixers don’t get a superstar(s) in return, then the next best thing would be future assets. Are they in a position to accept that their current core no longer has the potential to compete for a title within the next few years? Trading Embiid would require a (semi) rebuild, so are they really going to be willing to start from scratch again?
All these point to the fact that a potential trade deal would leave more questions than answers. Simply put, doing so would put Philadelphia in a more precarious and uncertain situation than they are in right now. After all, we’re just at the mid-point of the season and so much can still happen between today and June. Given all the talent they have in their squad and with a revitalized Embiid at the helm, it would not be surprising if the Sixers are able to turn their season around after the All-Star break. By then, perhaps we can look back at this particular juncture and laugh at the silliness of the idea of the Sixers trading Joel Embiid.