As recently proposed by Bleacher Report, the Philadelphia 76ers and Minnesota Timberwolves could swap franchise centers prior to the 2021 trade deadline, with the Sixers getting Karl-Anthony Towns and the Timberwolves acquiring Joel Embiid.
On Saturday, the publication’s Grant Hughes listed a number of moves that could potentially take place ahead of the March deadline, including the hypothetical Sixers-Wolves deal that, as noted, could help both teams. According to Hughes, Towns’ scoring ability and three-point shooting could give point guard Ben Simmons the spacing he needs to take his game to the next level, while Embiid’s defensive acumen could make up for the perceived deficiencies of key Timberwolves players such as D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, and Juancho Hernangomez.
Despite the intriguing possibilities for both organizations, it was also explained that Towns and Embiid come with some question marks, with the erstwhile Minnesota big man lacking playoff experience and the Sixers center having suffered injuries that forced him to debut two years after he was drafted third overall in 2014. Nonetheless, Hughes stressed that their strengths and weaknesses “almost cancel each other out,” which could mean the bigger question would be whether both teams need to add any “sweeteners” to make the swap work.
“Maybe this is the purest challenge trade ever imagined as it’s not clear which side would feel the need to ask for a little something extra to get the job done. Maybe Embiid’s health would give Minnesota a small opening to ask for a pick, but you could just as easily see Philly demanding one because it’s surrendering the guy who’s dominated on both ends at points of his career.”
According to Basketball-Reference, Towns had another productive campaign in 2019-20, averaging 26.5 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 4.4 assists and shooting 50.8 percent from the field and 41.2 percent from beyond the arc. He was, however, limited to just 35 games due to injuries after missing a combined five regular-season contests across the first four years of his career.
While Embiid has yet to play more than 64 games in a season due to his well-documented history with injuries, he has seen action in three consecutive All-Star Games for the Sixers. In 2019-20, he produced 23 points, 11.6 rebounds, three assists, and 1.3 blocks per game and shot 47.7 percent from the field, as shown on his Basketball-Reference player page.
The aforementioned trade idea is not the only one proposed this week that would shake things up for the Sixers by replacing Embiid in the middle. As reported by The Inquisitr, one recent scenario had the Cameroonian big man heading to the Phoenix Suns for a package focused on their own starting center, Deandre Ayton.