Sixers’ Early Exit Could Open Door for Knicks’ Pursuit of Joel Embiid: ‘It’s Here’

Joel Embiid, Julius Randle, New York Knicks

Getty Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts during the fourth quarter against the New York Knicks.

After having second thoughts on going all-in for Donovan Mitchell last summer, the New York Knicks are in a much better position to trade for a star this offseason with the emergence of Jalen Brunson in their best playoff run in a decade.

Could that be the newly-minted MVP Joel Embiid?

The Ringer’s Bill Simmons speculated three directions where the Philadelphia 76ers could go after their third straight second-round exit — a “Hail Mary” trade for Damian Lillard, re-sign James Harden and replace Doc Rivers, or Embiid pushes for a trade that could force them to go full rebuild.

“The Knicks are just waiting for Embiid to say it’s time for me to go,” Simmons said on his podcast with Ryen Russillo. “They have their relationships. They have Leon and Wes, who were his guys. They’ve been waiting for this moment, right now. And it’s here.”

Rose is Embiid’s former agent at Creative Artists Agency. Embiid lauded the Knicks when they hired Rose.

“Leon is my guy,” Embiid said at that time via New York Post. “He’s like family to me. When I heard the news, I was happy for him. He’s cool. Being an agent for such a long time and getting a GM or a president job, I think, is amazing. I’m so happy for him. I’m sure he’ll do a good job over there. I think he’s a great human being. He’s going to do a great job.”

The Knicks have the perfect mix of draft picks, young, intriguing players, and expiring contracts to dangle in case Embiid wants out of Philadelphia.

“The Knicks just lost in the playoffs, and they do feel good about Brunson, and that’s it, but they could just do the overpackaged, right? They’d be like what, ‘you name the price,'” Simmons added.

“Okay, basically like [Phoenix Suns new owner Matt] Ishbia with [the Kevin Durant trade]. ‘Oh, you want [Mikal] Bridges] and Cam [Johnson] and four first [round selections] and a pick swap? Great! I have Kevin Durant! Awesome!’ And the Knicks are kind of in that mode.”

Embiid just signed a four-year, $196 million supermax contract extension last year.

A potential Brunson-Embiid pick-and-roll tandem in New York will instantly catapult the Knicks into serious contender status in the Eastern Conference.

Evan Fournier Sees the Writing on the Wall

Evan Fournier did not mince words about his future after the Knicks fell short in the second round of the playoffs against the Miami Heat.

“My season was over a long time ago. It took me a good month to understand that…. Obviously, there are gonna be changes and I’m gonna get traded,” Evan Fournier said, per SNY’s Ian Begley.

Fournier’s dive from a starter and the franchise record holder for most 3s in a single season to a bench warmer was jarring, considering his sizable contract.

He has two years left on his original $73 million deal, representing the Knicks’ biggest splash in the 2020 free agency. But only next season worth $18.8 million is guaranteed, making his contract a perfect salary ballast in a potential trade for a star.

More Trade Targets Emerge for Knicks

While Minnesota’s three-time All-Star big man Karl-Anthony Towns remains the hottest name linked to the Knicks, three more potential offseason targets have emerged, according to Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus.

Several NBA sources over the past couple of years have expressed they believe the Knicks will ultimately end up with Karl-Anthony Towns, a CAA client.

If so, would the Knicks want to add Towns to complement their top three or send out Randle or Barrett? No one polled expects Brunson to be available, but sourcing was of mixed opinion on what’s next for New York.

Other big names suggested as potential Knicks targets include Bradley Beal, Kyle Kuzma (expected to be a free agent this summer) and OG Anunoby. Generally speaking, the Knicks could be a suitor for the next star who demands a trade.

Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney was the first to report about Towns as the Knicks’ primary trade target.


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