Joel Embiid got the attention of Philadelphia 76ers fans and NBA fans alike after he questioned if he could win a championship in Philly. The cryptic remark sent off alarm bells for Sixers fans. With James Harden already wanting out of town with his trade request, could Embiid follow up with one of his own in the years to come?
As it stands right now, Embiid is under contract with the Sixers for three more years. He is signed through the 2025-26 season before he reaches his player option year for 2026-27. If the marriage between Philadelphia and Embiid can’t smooth out, the best time to trade him would be this season or next. He would be under a team’s control for around two years before reaching the player option year that he could opt into for $59 million.
Theoretically, trading him earlier in the contract would bring back the highest return for the Sixers since teams would know acquiring Embiid wouldn’t only be a rental.
The Sixers should in no way trade their superstar center.
Nick Nurse was hired to get Philadelphia over the hump with the roster as it’s currently constructed. His task is to come in and get the most out of the roster that has bottomed out in the second round. Trading away Harden and Embiid to create a rebuilding situation would counter the reason for hiring Nurse.
Embiid has come up small in the playoffs when it’s mattered most, but I don’t think the return would be worth moving him out of town. He’ll be 31 when he enters the last year of his contract with the Sixers. While that seems young, everyone knows the injury concerns that have followed Embiid throughout his entire career.
What Philadelphia should focus on is offloading the big contracts of Harden and Tobias Harris in order to have more flexibility to sign and trade for pieces to put around Embiid during these three years.
The Sixers tanked once before to get a talent like Embiid who won an MVP award, two scoring titles, and six All-Star Game selections. They should do everything they can to continue building a championship-level roster instead of looking to the future and hoping one will come there.