Mock trade has Sixers sending Joel Embiid to Spurs in a 4-team deal
The Philadelphia 76ers are done for the 2022-23 season as their playoff run ended in familiar fashion: in Round 2.
The Sixers have fallen in the Eastern Conference semifinals in three straight seasons and for five of the previous six seasons now. It seems like maybe they have hit their ceiling on how far this group can possibly go.
That remains up for debate, but considering the way the season ended, now is the time to analyze the fake trades. Bleacher Report has a wild one cooked up as they have the Sixers sending Joel Embiid to the San Antonio Spurs in a big 4-team deal:
The fake trade proposal
San Antonio Spurs receive: Joel Embiid (wild, I know), Bradley Beal and a 2025 second-round pick from the Houston Rockets
Philadelphia 76ers receive: No. 1 pick in 2023 (Wembanyama, of course), Keldon Johnson and Doug McDermott (largely salary filler), Jalen Green, a 2025 first-round pick from the Rockets (via Oklahoma City or Boston) and a 2026 second-round pick from the Washington Wizards
Washington Wizards receive: Tobias Harris, Devonte’ Graham, Zach Collins, Daishen Nix and a 2025 first-round pick from the San Antonio Spurs
Houston Rockets receive: James Harden, Khem Birch and Johnny Davis
B/R on why the Sixers do this deal
Of course, this deal presupposes Harden picking up his player option as part of the trade. And there’s no reason to expect Maxey wouldn’t take a leap in the event of Harden leaving. Over the last two postseasons, he’s averaged 20.7 points.
But what if that leap came alongside 19-year-old Wembanyama instead of the 29-year-old Embiid?
Giving up the reigning MVP seems absurd, but Wembanyama (again, potentially one of the greatest prospects in the history of the sport), 22-year Maxey, 23-year old Keldon Johnson and 21-year-old Jalen Green would make for a heck of a core for a reboot.
And unloading James Harden and Tobias Harris as part of this deal would give the Sixers exceptionally clean books with a lot more cap flexibility going forward.
Keldon Johnson is the biggest deal coming back to Philadelphia, and he has a declining salary that will end up at $17.5 million in 2026-27. Harden and Harris are set to make around $75 million combined next season (again, assuming Harden would pick up his player option).
Analyzing the deal from a Sixers standpoint
The Sixers shouldn’t trade Embiid. They just shouldn’t. He is a top 5 player in the league, he just won the MVP award, and he is going to only get better. Sure, Victor Wembanyama has a ton of potential and the idea of a Tyrese Maxey-Wembanyama-Keldon Johnson core is tantalizing, but Philadelphia shouldn’t overreact.
Even if the Sixers lose James Harden in free agency, which is looking like a real possibility, the Sixers can remain contenders with Embiid and Maxey. One has to believe that President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey has a backup plan in place if Harden does leave so they can maximize the big fella in his prime. There isn’t much motivation to move Embiid unless he were to come out with a a trade request which is unlikely.