Some NBA analysts and insiders have started tossing around that idea. Harden, a 10-time All-Star, informed Philadelphia he would like to play elsewhere before next season, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Harden’s request has at least one of his teammates, reigning MVP Joel Embiid, questioning his own future in Philly.
“I just want to win a championship, whatever it takes,” Embiid said in a July 13 interview with Maverick Carter of The Movie Report. “I don’t know where that’s going to be, whether it’s in Philly or anywhere else. I just want to have a chance to accomplish that, I want to see what that feels like to win that first one, and then you can think about the next one. It’s not easy, it takes more than one two or three guys. Got to have good people around you.”
The Athletic’s Zach Harper thinks that instead of continuing to pursue Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard, Miami should consider an Embiid trade.
Multiple Analysts Suggest a Bam Adebayo-Joel Embiid Swap
Harper thinks taking a bigger swing at Embiid, who is friends with Heat star Jimmy Butler, is a long shot, but an intriguing one nonetheless, and he believes the 76ers might be interested in a trade if Miami offered up two-time All-Star Bam Adebayo. “An Adebayo-centered trade package to reunite Butler and Embiid could be an easier pill to swallow. It would end any pursuit of Lillard due to lack of assets,” Harper wrote.
Embiid and Butler played together briefly back in 2019, when both were with the Sixers. They wound up losing in the second round of the playoffs that year to the Toronto Raptors. The idea of reuniting the two superstars is about as tantalizing as it gets.
“Embiid mentioned needing more than one, two or three guys. Winning is about having good people around you, which seems like an accurate portrayal of a championship team,” Harper noted, before pitching a Heat-Embiid trade.
“Enter Jimmy Butler. The Heat have pursued Damian Lillard as he tries strong-arming his way to Miami. So far, the Blazers aren’t biting on what they deem an inferior offer for Lillard. What if the Heat focus on someone bigger and better? Could Miami use the friendship between Butler and Embiid — and their open online love fest — for a bigger swing?”
Harper isn’t the only one to pitch an Embiid-Adebayo trade. Insider Michael Scotto of HoopsHype essentially wrote the same thing on July 21.
Embiid Would Be Dream Acquisition for Heat
Embiid, 29, has been named an All-Star in each of the last six seasons and is just entering the first year of the four-year, $213 million extension he inked with the Sixers. He has led the NBA in scoring over the last two years, and he is a virtual double-double machine, averaging over 22 points and 10 rebounds a game for six consecutive seasons. He finished with a career-high 33.1 points last year, also hauling in 10.2 rebounds and dishing out 4.2 assists.
If things get worse in Philadelphia, the situation with Embiid might be worth monitoring for Miami. But teams don’t just trade away two-time MVPs in their prime, and barring a miracle, the Sixers won’t, either.
“Ultimately, Embiid probably isn’t going anywhere. The Sixers don’t even want to trade Harden. But that won’t stop the internet from swooning over the next big transaction idea,” Harper added.