Despite the injection of life from new head coach Nick Nurse, and the optimism surrounding some of the young players on the roster, the James Harden situation has painted the entire Philadelphia 76ers enterprise with a cloud of dysfunction. Of course, any time there’s an appearance of weakness, the vultures come circling. One of those vultures is just up the way on I-95, as we see yet again in the latest reporting from The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey:
“The New York Knicks are closely monitoring the situation, hoping it ends with Embiid forcing his way out. Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose has made obtaining Embiid, if he becomes available, No. 1 priority, according to sources. Rose, a Cherry Hill native and Cherry Hill East High School graduate, was a prominent sports agent before taking over the Knicks. Embiid was once Rose’s client at Creative Artists Agency (CAA).The Knicks are willing to offer a package that includes three key players, with Julius Randle, R.J. Barrett, Evan Fournier and Mitchell Robinson all available in exchange for Embiid, according to sources. A trio from that group would be paired with two or three first-round picks.”
This isn’t the first, second or third time we’ve heard about Knicks president Leon Rose openly pining for his old client, Embiid. Our Paul Hudrick emphatically made the case back in May that the Knicks weren’t a great Embiid trade partner for the Sixers. Even while bringing up the idea as the theme of his piece, Pompey touches upon the main reasons a Knicks deal wouldn’t happen:
“As the reigning MVP, the Sixers should be able to get better offers for Embiid. And it wouldn’t make sense to trade him to an Atlantic Division rival.”
Still, for the sake of our sanity, let’s run through the reasons now. First and foremost, Joel Embiid hasn’t indicated he wants to leave Philadelphia. That’s a big deal! Sure, he has made remarks now and again about winning and championship aspirations, but that’s because he’s probably frustrated like the rest of us and gets asked these questions nearly every time he goes in front of a microphone. He’s bound to give something other than a canned response occasionally. He’s Troel!
Setting that aside, the Knicks offer would be down the list in terms of what the Sixers could get for Embiid. Julius Randle has made a couple All-Star games, but he’s no one’s idea of a team centerpiece. RJ Barrett is still 23 years old, but there haven’t been any signs he is anything more than an inefficient volume scorer. The first-round picks the Knicks possess belonging to other teams all have protections on them, and their own picks would be further devalued by Embiid going to the team. Any credible Embiid shopping would involve a phone call to Oklahoma City, two more phone calls to Oklahoma City to check back, and then about a dozen other teams before New York.
Then, again, not only is the New York package not close to the best one in a vacuum, but could you imagine the outcry from the Philadelphia fan base if the team sent Joel Embiid to the Knicks! The Knicks, of New York! Fans would swarm over the Ben Franklin Bridge like the zombies in World War Z to get to the team offices in Camden and raze the practice facility to the foundation.
Now, you could say, what about the Embiid-Rose relationship? What if he asked out and said he would only go there? Ask Damian Lillard and the Miami Heat if that sort of thing is destined to succeed.
So Knicks, just stop. You look silly. We have enough problems here trying to trade one former All-NBA player who wants to leave without you bringing up the name of our other All-NBA player who doesn’t. Enjoy your first Eastern Conference Semifinals appearance in a decade and keep Joel’s name out of your mouth.