Sell high: Getting over the hump, with or without Embiid
Most would say it is insane to trade the recent NBA Most Valuable Player. A minority of fans would suggest the time to trade Joel Embiid is now. It is obvious why the Sixers should keep him. He led the league in scoring for two consecutive years, and he’s a juggernaut defensive threat. However, the risk of keeping him amid the Doc Rivers firing and James Harden uncertainty could be a rolling snowball that is bound for an avalanche.
What would the benefit be in trading the reigning MVP? Well, look at his injury history. From the moment he has been a Sixer, Embiid has been injured. Before you say “it’s part of the game” or that “every star battles injury”, very few have had as many subpar postseasons as Embiid due to being hurt. He can be the most dominant player in the league between October and April, but once May begins, an often injured Embiid doesn’t do the team any good trying to advance to the next round.
Secondly, Embiid’s age becomes a factor. Next year, Embiid will be 30 years old. He will make $46.9 million in 2023-2024. He will be almost 33 going into his final contract year, guaranteed to make $58.2 million. If Embiid continues to come up short for Philly in subsequent postseasons and his injury list keeps piling up, fewer teams will be willing to trade for his contract due to his age and fading health.
Lastly, the trend of disgruntled NBA stars forcing their way out could likely creep into the Philly sports atmosphere like a dark cloud that has not hovered above the city since Allen Iverson before he was traded to Denver in 2006. The Internet already has trade rumors of the Knicks looking at Embiid, and if the walls start caving in before the trade deadline, things could get ugly real quick for the Sixers’ management.
This city has seen Charles Barkley and Allen Iverson force a trade. The last thing Philly wants to see is the catalyst for the Process demand his own.
Whether fans want to admit it, the fork in the road for Joel Embiid is starting to materialize with yet another postseason disappointment. The organization has options. A new coach can change the scheme of the offense. Embiid can add more passing to his game. Or, reset everything, trading the Sixers’ big man while his value is at its peak.
Unless Embiid’s tenure in Philadelphia can find a track that ends like Dirk Nowitzki’s, the Process will be a complete failure, and all of the collective heartache and frustration will lead to another familiar place for Philly, reminiscent of the early Process years – in the NBA Draft Lottery.