The Philadelphia 76ers are in a tough spot right now. They're a team that has been unable to get out of the second round of the postseason and are the latest team to irritate James Harden to the point where he asked out of Philadelphia and might not even play the team's season opener.
With Harden's future in Philadelphia murky at best, fans have speculated what fellow star Joel Embiid is going to do. All Embiid has said publicly is how much he loves the city of Philadelphia and the 76ers organization, but if the Sixers lose Harden and fail to build anything resembling anything close to a championship team around him, the question about whether Embiid will ask out or not is a very real one.
If Embiid does ask out, the New York Knicks make a whole lot of sense as a potential destination. The Knicks lack that superstar that can get them over the top and win a championship. Pairing Joel Embiid with Jalen Brunson in New York can get them in the championship conversation.
Sixers beat writer Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the Knicks would be willing to offer a package consisting of some of their key players including Julius Randle, R.J. Barrett, Evan Fournier, and Mitchell Robinson along with multiple first-round picks in exchange for Embiid.
Mock 76ers trade sending Joel Embiid to the Knicks deserves a B+ Grade
Think of this package as something similar to the Damian Lillard trade that went down this offseason. Two or three first-round picks seems a bit light for a player of Joel Embiid's caliber, but getting a slew of players alongside the picks gives the 76ers a chance to stack up on future first-rounders by making additional deals.
Out of the four players New York would be sending back, R.J. Barrett is the most interesting to me. He's just 23 years old, and could fit nicely as a second option alongside Tyrese Maxey. This would give him a big chance to develop with the ball in his hands. 25-year-old Mitchell Robinson could be their center of the future. Barrett is under contract through the 2027 season while Robinson is under contract through the 2026 season.
Julius Randle doesn't quite fit with their timeline, so he can fill the Jrue Holiday role from the Lillard trade and be the guy Philadelphia looks to move for additional draft capital. Fournier is under contract for just one more season so he's nothing more than just a throw-in.
The Sixers might want one of Quentin Grimes or Immanuel Quickley in this deal as another young piece that would help them accelerate their rebuild, but if they're able to get Randle, Barrett, Robinson, AND multiple unprotected first-round picks that feels like an absolute haul.
For the Knicks, this is a lot to give up. A duo of Brunson and Embiid would be electric but this trade leaves them with very little to surround this pair with. 60% of their starting lineup would be headed to Philadelphia including a young player that can average close to 20 PPG, an All-NBA player in Randle, and one of the elite rim protectors in basketball in Mitchell Robinson.
Josh Hart, Quentin Grimes, Immanuel Quickley, and Donte DiVincenzo are all very nice complimentary pieces, but none of them are ideal third options on a championship team. It feels very unlikely New York would part ways with both Randle and Barrett when they lack that third option.
To me, this kind of framework would be close to a deal getting done, but the Sixers might demand another young piece while the Knicks would be hesitant to give up two big-time scorers.