The other day, Sixers center Joel Embiid sent out this tweet that led to a whirlwind of speculation.
It immediately begs the question, when Embiid says, “Miami needs another star,” is he referring to himself? If so, could Joel Embiid to the Heat be in our future?
Embiid Isn’t Wrong
First, let’s be clear that Embiid does have a point here. At the moment, Jimmy Butler is Miami’s best player, and the team’s only true “star.” Bam Adebayo is probably the next closest to that designation, but he is not quite there yet. Looking at the rest of the roster, they have some great role players and veterans who were once stars, but their best days are behind them. One thing is obvious, if Embiid joined the Heat tomorrow, he would immediately become the best player on the roster. What team wouldn’t want to add him?
Could Embiid Want Out?
The big question here is whether or not Embiid would actually leave Philly. He has established himself as the undisputed leader of the team and is beloved by that city. However, frustration could be mounting for the Sixers big man after a fifth consecutive postseason exit without making the conference finals. Philly’s front office has failed to put a star alongside Embiid. They had Butler for the 2018-19 season, which ended in a heartbreaking game seven loss to the eventual champions in Toronto. Rather than trying to run it back, Butler was sent to Miami.
The latest attempt at finding a running mate for Embiid was a trade for James Harden. Unfortunately, Harden is a shell of his former self. Worse yet, he has an irresistible player option for next season that would pay him over $47 million, making him virtually untradeable. Is Embiid willing to risk wasting another year of his prime on a team that will likely struggle to contend for a title? He might decide that the Sixers have had enough chances and that it is time to move on.
If he does, Miami would be a near-perfect fit. Embiid and Butler already have a great relationship and their playing styles mesh together well. Both are playmakers with and without the ball. Also, Embiid already plays with the tenacity that Heat coach, Erik Spoelstra, demands. Most importantly, the addition of Embiid would transform a Miami team that is currently a contender into a juggernaut.
How Would a Joel Embiid to the Heat Move Work?
Given that Embiid is under contract for next season, any move would require a trade. Also, he cannot be traded until July 17. So, what would a potential trade look like? After using ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine, and then adding in some draft picks, here is one possibility:
Miami receives: Joel Embiid
Philadelphia receives: Bam Adebayo, Max Strus, Miami 2023 1st round pick, Miami 2024 1st round pick.
For Miami, Embiid would be a significant upgrade over Adebayo. Giving up Strus and two firsts is the price of doing business, one that they would happily pay. On the other side, any trade in which Philly gives up Embiid would feel like a loss. The compensation is not terrible, but it is hard to see how the Sixers get better in this trade. It is important to note that this trade would only happen if Embiid demanded it. This would give Philly little leverage.
Will it Happen?
At the end of the day, it is hard to picture Embiid being anywhere but Philly next season. I think it is more likely that Daryl Morey finds a way to either trade Harden or add another shooter. Still, this situation is something to keep an eye on. Embiid is heading into the final year of his contract. If the Sixers are not looking like contenders when next year’s trade deadline rolls around, all bets are off.