The trade winds swirling around the Philadelphia 76ers are bordering on “Wizard of Oz” levels right now. Players could be uprooted and transported to an unknown fantasy world at any point the way things are going. Look for the ruby slippers.
While James Harden’s future remains in doubt, one thing seems clear: the one-time MVP won’t be wearing a Sixers’ uniform this season. Contract or not, Harden has worn out his welcome with his attitude. Daryl Morey is contemplating the best exit plan. Philadelphia fans have already moved on. However, the trickle-down effect is what has everyone concerned.
For example, Joel Embiid’s cryptic activity on social media. The latter is what has prompted some uncomfortable speculation like this interesting nugget from Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo! Sports: “Many around the league believe Embiid will ask out sooner rather than later — and that a full rebuild is what Morey is covertly hoping for.”
Again, there is no concrete evidence that Embiid wants out. The star center referred to Philly as “our city” in a post commenting on Lionel Messi taking on the Philadelphia Union in MLS play. (For the record: Messi scored and Miami won 4-1). But Embiid has been staying uncharacteristically quiet, which has only further fueled the rumor mill.
One blockbuster trade rumor making the rounds involves a reunion of sorts in Miami. It’s no secret how deep the bond between Embiid and Jimmy Butler runs, with each player publicly lamenting no longer being teammates. It’s not that far-fetched of an idea to envision through that lens. One problem: Embiid doesn’t seem to fit the so-called “Heat Culture.”
The Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman touched on a potential Sixers-Heat trade in a recent mailbag. In it, Bam Adebayo (and other unnamed players) gets sent packing to Philadelphia in exchange for Embiid. Winderman doesn’t see it happening and wrote:
"So you’re trading Bam Adebayo? Look, Joel Embiid is an MVP and arguably, with all due respect to Nikola Jokic, the best true center in the NBA. But he also has never gotten past the second round of the playoffs and has a concerning injury history. I’m not sure the Heat, based on the system they have played to this point, would be so quick to deal Bam. And for all his trolling, I’m not sure Joel is going anywhere. The 76ers would sooner cast aside James Harden or Daryl Morey than Joel. It would be difficult to envision a world where the 76ers would need/have to cast Tyrese Maxey or Tobias Harris as their leading man."