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Why Joel Embiid Is Leaving the Philadelphia 76ers Next Year

| March 5, 2020 12:44 pm PDT
Joel Embiid Leaving 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers have come a long way since “trusting the process.” Joel Embiid has morphed into one of the best big men in the NBA, and the Sixers have flirted with yearly title contention.

Unfortunately, Embiid’s awesome talent and a loaded roster haven’t translated into much high-level success. The 76ers have made the NBA playoffs in each of the last two seasons, but they’ve been bounced in the second round both times.

This was supposed to be the year Philadelphia took the next big step. So far, things aren’t playing out as expected, however.

Philly still sits at a solid 37-25 at the time of this writing, but an Atlantic Division title isn’t realistically within reach. Neither is a top seed, as the 76ers currently hold onto the six seed in the Eastern Conference.

The team can still climb up the ladder before the playoffs roll around, but thanks to present injuries to both Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, that could prove difficult.

Suffice it to say, poor seeding could lead to a third straight early exit come postseason play. That could cause Joel Embiid trade rumors to heat up, and if things don’t break just right, it’s possible Philly ends up breaking up this would-be elite core.

It’s gotten to the point where NBA betting sites like Bovada are seriously debating this. The top sites recently hosted a prop asking where Embiid could play next year, should he be moved.

That’s a debate for another time. For now, let’s just go over 6 reasons why Joel Embiid won’t play for the Sixers in 2020-21.

The Joel Embiid Trade Rumors Are Here

The first thing that might suggest a Joel Embiid trade isn’t that crazy? The fact that Joel Embiid trade rumors are a thing.

Per Bleacher Report, NBA executives are preparing for the possibility that Philly could move on from Embiid. Maybe that’s just executives or scouts trying to meddle with Philly’s success and stir the pot, but where there is smoke, there often is fire.

Philly’s inability to take that next step is a driving force behind this conversation. Real or not, people are talking about it, and 76ers fans and bettors alike can’t ignore it.

Sportsbooks Are Letting You Bet on It

Another major red flag that tells us Joel Embiid could potentially be traded is the fact that the best NBA betting sites are so willing to offer wagers on it happening.

Some sites have hosted bets simply asking whether Embiid gets dealt, while others specifically ask bettors to make a call as to who he plays for next year.

Embiid is still under contract for two more seasons, so it’s entirely possible the Sixers bide their time here. It’s obviously also possible they trade other pieces or don’t blow up their roster in any capacity.

However, the fact that sportsbooks are creating extra tension with Joel Embiid prop bets just might tell us that there is something to these rumors.

The 76ers May Have Reached Their Ceiling

I touched on this briefly, but a huge reason why the 76ers could trade Joel Embiid is the fear that this team is already as good as it will ever be.

Embiid is a fantastic player and is still just 25 years old. He can space the floor as a shooter, and he can dominate with his elite footwork and brute strength down low. He’s even an excellent defender that makes his team’s defense better.

But great players by themselves don’t always solve the problem. Embiid may not necessarily fit today’s NBA game perfectly, while there is some light chatter that he and Ben Simmons aren’t the ideal fit.

I’m not sure I fully buy all of that, as this is still a pretty young team. Last year, they had to deal with Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors. The year before that, LeBron James was still in the East.

Now Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks are dominating the Eastern Conference. It’s possible the NBA just operates in waves and the Sixers need to put the work in to reach the top.

The problem, of course, is that they haven’t done that to this point. That has to have the Sixers brass wondering if they ever will.

This Is Ben Simmons’ Team

Not only is there the argument that Simmons and Embiid aren’t a perfect fit, but it’s becoming clear that this is Simmons’ team.

Simmons is younger, he’s more skilled, he has less of an injury history, he’s a less problematic personality, he fits today’s game better, and he’s also more marketable.

From top to bottom, Ben Simmons is the better franchise player for the 76ers to build around.

The franchise doesn’t necessarily have to pick a side here, but with Embiid set to hit free agency in a few years, drawing a line in the dirt now could make good sense.

His Injury History Is Troublesome

Joel Embiid’s shaky injury history has to be a big red flag for the Sixers.

When healthy, he is a top-5 center in the NBA. However, he missed serious time before ever playing a single minute in The Association, and ever since, he’s needed to manage his workload.

Embiid has proven to be a lot more durable than most suspected, but it’s come at a cost. Embiid has never played more than 64 games in a season, and he’s constantly been nicked up.

There’s the ever-present concern that Embiid’s size could also contribute to the resurfacing of his old foot injuries. Embiid’s health makes him a potential long-term liability, and Philly would be foolish to not at least think about what a future with an injured center weighing them down looks like.

Philly Could Get a Great Haul for Him

Lastly, the Sixers need to think long and hard about trading Joel Embiid because the return could be massive. The Sixers already have a terrific roster, and one could argue that with the right trade, they wouldn’t really miss Embiid.

Why? Because of the logic that says Ben Simmons is the fuel for this team and that outside shooters and perhaps another playmaker could take this team over the top.

Waiting only devalues Embiid in trade talks and also leaves the door open to Embiid publicly destroying his trade market and/or injury sapping his value.

If Philly is going to blow things up, the time may be now to maximize Joel Embiid’s trade value before anyone truly believes they’ll do it. Once everyone knows Embiid is on the way out, trade packages get smaller and less impressive.

Embiid is also locked in for two more years as things stand. Teams will be more willing to part with major assets, knowing that this isn’t a one-year rental. They’d have two full years to convince Embiid to agree to a long-term contract or decide to flip him themselves.

Summary

The harsh reality for the 76ers is that their window is already shrinking. As things stand, they aren’t even a top-three team in the Eastern Conference.

Health and continuity have a lot to do with that. The Sixers could still opt to keep trucking along, and other moves (trading Al Horford) could be dreamt up in an effort to keep their two best players together for the long haul.

However, The Greek Freak and the Bucks aren’t going away. Toronto, Boston, and Miami are all right there with them. The Pacers are even pesky, while a healthy Nets team could be one to fear in 2020-21.

Philly may not control their own destiny as things stand. If this year’s playoff run is again uninspiring, the 76ers will need to consider making a major change, and that just might mean trading Joel Embiid away to the highest bidder.

From there, the question is obviously where Joel Embiid lands.

Noah Davis
Noah Davis

Noah Davis is one of the more diverse writers at GamblingSites.com. Like many of his colleagues, he's a huge fan of both football and basketball. But he also writes about box office records, TV show prop bets, DFS, and all kinds of other subjects.

When it comes to the NFL, Noah's favorite team is the Cleveland Browns. He enjoys cheering them on with his wife and daughter.

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