2: Joel Embiid
Joel Embiid is a player that’s been linked to the Knicks this offseason. With James Harden opting into his $35.6 million player option for 2023-24 in the hopes of being traded, the Sixers could grant Harden’s wish or hold onto him for at least the start of next season. Far more attention has been placed on Damian Lillard’s future rather than Harden’s.
Philadelphia is in desperation mode to keep Embiid happy, so the front office isn’t going to accept a measly return for Harden if a trade does happen. The Sixers have lost Georges Niang, Shake Milton, and Jalen McDaniels so far this offseason and have added Patrick Beverley.
Embiid signed a four-year, $196 million supermax deal last offseason and after 2023-24, he’ll have three years left on his contract, which includes a $59 million player option in 2026-27.
Philadelphia has been eliminated in the Eastern Conference Semifinals the past three seasons. If a similar result happens this upcoming season and the Sixers fail to at least make it to the Eastern Conference Finals, Embiid could decide to leave The Process in the past. He already has ties with the Knicks as he was represented by Leon Rose when he was with the CAA.
Trading the 2022-23 NBA MVP to a division rival would be a lot for Philadelphia to stomach, but if New York keeps hold of its assets, the Knicks would be able to give the Sixers the best offer.