The Philadelphia 76ers lost Game 7 of their second round Eastern Conference series to the Toronto Raptors Sunday night in heartbreaking fashion. Kawhi Leonard’s buzzer-beating shot bounced on the hoop four times before going in, sending the Sixers home.
There’s been much speculation as to Philadelphia’s next move. The team has already announced that coach Brett Brown will return next season, but speculation now turns both to the team’s long list of free agents — including Jimmy Butler, JJ Redick, Tobias Harris, and James Ennis — and speculation about trades.
There have already been rumors that the team could trade Ben Simmons, rather than give him an extension. One report this week, per The Inquisitr, even suggested a trade of Simmons to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for LeBron James. But one commentator is now suggesting that the Sixers should trade their other young superstar, Joel Embiid.
Max Kellerman — the co-host of ESPN’s First Take, via YouTube — said on Tuesday morning that rather than trade Simmons, the Sixers should trade Embiid. Kellerman detailed that this could allow the team to build around Simmons and the proceeds from an Embiid trade, also utilizing cap space and draft picks.
“I would trade Joel Embiid,” Kellerman said. “Because what I see is a big guy with an injury history. The injuries seem to continue, especially chronically with his back and knee. Given his size, and the way giants age anyway… I would get while the getting was good.”
Stephen A. Smith disagreed with his co-host.
“You’re saying that the guy that sat in front of the media, the star of the team, who gave his unwavering support to the head coach, and that’s the reason you support the head coach staying… is the same guy you trade?”
Kellerman replied that he believes Simmons has stagnated as a player, in part due to being on the same team as Embiid.
Embiid had expresssed his support for Brown, who has coached the Sixers for Embiid’s entire career, after the loss — and before the team announced that the coach was staying.
It would appear highly unlikely that the Sixers — who signed Embiid to a massive extension, making him the face of their franchise — would then trade him.
Embiid did miss the first two seasons of his career due to knee and foot injuries, and while he battled some injuries this season, including in the playoffs, Embiid did not miss significant time this past season.
This isn’t the first time Kellerman has suggested a trade of Embiid. In February, the pundit suggested the team trade their center for Anthony Davis, per USA Today.