NBA Rumors: A surprise team emerges as a potential Joel Embiid destination

Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers NBA (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers NBA (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

As the Philadelphia 76ers prepare to enter training camp next month with a disgruntled James Harden still on the roster, they should also keep a close eye on NBA MVP Joel Embiid. If the Harden situation becomes more and more of a distraction and he gets his way and forces his way off the team, then Embiid just might follow suit.

At issue is whether team president Darly Morey lied to Harden and led him to believe that by opting out last summer, he’d receive a max contract this summer. That appears to be the case, and the decision not to trade him after both agreed that he would opt into his contract to facilitate one appeared to be the final straw.

Now Harden has vowed not to play for the Sixers again, and the team is unlikely to get another star in return for him. That obviously hurts Embiid, since the Sixers may take a step back in a crowded Eastern Conference. It could also force him to reexamine whether he wants to be in Philadelphia.

NBA Rumors: A surprise team emerges as an Embiid destination.

If Embiid decides to follow Harden in asking out, he’ll instantly become the biggest star available on the trade market. While Damian Lillard is still available, he is 34 years old, compared to Embiid, who’s 29, has three seasons remaining on his contract, and is coming off an MVP season. There would, of course, be a bidding war, and the Houston Rockets are rumored to be very interested in acquiring him should he come available.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise, though the Rockets have enough assets needed to get a deal done in the event that does happen. They have Jalen Green, who has star potential, as do 2022 No. 3 pick Jabari Smith and 2023 No. 4 pick Amen Thompson. That would rival just about any potential trade package that another team can offer and could make Embiid the next in a line of great Rockets big men.

Trending. A disgruntled James Harden may turn Embiid against the Sixers. light

Ultimately, the Harden situation could negatively affect Embiid’s relationship with the 76ers. If it does, and if he asks out, the Rockets are equipped to make a strong offer.