The Philadelphia 76ers entered the 2019-20 season as one of the favorites to dominate the Eastern Conference and win the NBA championship. Unfortunately, as of now, the Sixers have yet to live up to expectations, and have struggled to be consistent with their performance on both ends of the floor. So far, Coach Brett Brown and the 76ers remain optimistic about their chances of bringing home the Larry O’Brien Trophy this season, but if they fall short of achieving their main goal, things could start to turn sour in the City of Brotherly Love.
According to Tim Bontemps of ESPN, if the 76ers fail to at least advance to the Eastern Conference Finals this season, rumors surrounding the futures of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid in Philadelphia are expected to heat up in the offseason. Though both are considered franchise cornerstones, it is very noticeable that Simmons and Embiid are having a hard time building chemistry on the court.
As Bontemps noted, there’s currently no strong indication that the 76ers are planning to move either superstar next summer, but if they decide to explore a trade, league executives reportedly see Embiid as the “more likely to be moved” than Simmons.
“There is no consensus, but league execs think that if the Sixers do explore a trade, Embiid is more likely to be moved — health being the determining factor in building around Simmons. One exec added that a big trade featuring Simmons or Embiid might be the only way to reshape the team.”
The 76ers could still choose to continue building a title-contending team around Simmons and Embiid in the offseason. However, one league executive who spoke to Bontemps believes that the trade involving Simmons or Embiid is the only deal that would assure the Sixers of a good return.
“If they tried to move [Tobias Harris or Al Horford], I don’t think they’d get value in return,” a league executive said. “They’d ask to be incentivized. Whereas if they move Ben or Joel, they’ll get a lot more.”
It’s not hard to imagine why most league executives consider Embiid as more likely to be traded than Simmons. Embiid may be a better player than Simmons right now, but some people think that the latter has a higher ceiling. Also, the presence of Al Horford in the 76ers’ roster makes it easier for the team to part ways with Embiid.
Though Horford is older, he is still capable of filling the hole that Embiid will be leaving on the team. Aside from being a good defender, Horford is also an incredible rebounder, facilitator, and floor-spacer.
Once he becomes officially available on the trading block, Embiid is highly likely to receive strong interest in the offseason. Teams who are in dire need of a frontcourt boost to contend for the championship will surely do everything they can to add Embiid to their roster.