Will a Joel Embiid trade require a Gobert-level haul?

Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers. Jonas Valanciunas, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers. Jonas Valanciunas, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

Should the New Orleans Pelicans get ahead of the market and offer a Rudy Gobert-type of trade package for Joel Embiid?

The New Orleans Pelicans, Toronto Raptors, Miami Heat, and Portland Trail Blazers are the only four teams to not complete a trade this offseason. Toronto has several players being mentioned as options in the trade rumors. Meanwhile, the Heat and Blazers are negotiating a (potential) Damian Lillard deal.

Wilt Chamberlain, Charles Barkley, Allen Iverson, James Harden. Practically every Philadelphia 76ers All-Star has tried to get out of town once they saw the writing on the wall. Joel Embiid is likely next, even if he does so more diplomatically than Anthony Davis (it still hurts, I know). So, what are Philadelphia’s options?

  • Cave in and offer Harden a max-level deal and try to build a contender with that cap sheet.
  • Swap Harden for spare parts and potential and patchwork supporting cast for training camp.
  • Stand pat and refuse lopsided trades, but also run the risk that Harden pulls a Houston, and the overall team chemistry suffers greatly.

Every scenario requires Tyrese Maxey to become a bonafide, non-alternate/fringe-level All-Star-caliber player for the 76ers to be NBA Finals contenders. Without that development and a better package for Harden, how would the 76ers convince Embiid they can beat Miami, the Boston Celtics, or Milwaukee Bucks in the East? Could they manage this feat? And if not, should the Pelicans offer a Rudy Gobert type of deal for the almost 30-year-old center with an injury history?

To do so, New Orleans would have to send 3-5 serviceable players, 4-5 draft picks, and possibly some swap options. The Pelicans would also probably want to keep their core of Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Trey Murphy III, and Herbert Jones together. Beyond that, everyone is expendable for Joel Embiid.

Top 3 Packages for Joel Embiid

So what could the Pelicans offer that at least gets Philadelphia thinking about ending ‘The Process?’ First, the parameters: Philadelphia must take either CJ McCollum or Jonas Valanciunas. If not, a third team will be needed.

  1. CJ McCollum, Jonas Valanciunas, Kira Lewis Jr., and at least four picks and possibly two swaps for Joel Embiid and Furkan Korkmaz. McCollum for salary, and Valanciunas because someone has to play center in Philadelphia for a season.
  2. If Philadelphia does not want Valanciunas: same deal, but with Larry Nance Jr., Naji Marshall, and at least one less pick (unless the 76ers throw New Orleans two second-rounders).
  3. There are a couple of three or four-team deals with the same packages from the Pelicans that could work, especially if the Brooklyn Nets want to move on from Ben Simmons. For instance, the Nets would get McCollum, the Charlotte Hornets would receive Ben Simmons, and Philadelphia would get Terry Rozier and Mark Williams, along with Nance and Lewis. Sell it to Charlotte as Simmons being a pass-first defender who can bring some eyeballs to the team and some help for their emerging young core.

Having the MVP heavyweight bout of Joel Embiid versus Nikola Jokic in the same NBA In-Season Tournament group would really shake up the league’s national television flex schedule.

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