For the New York Knicks’ dream to become a reality, Joel Embiid must request a trade from the Sixers. Given how James Harden’s situation is playing out with Philadelphia, the probability of Embiid being the next big-name star on the trade market has risen.
Shortly after Harden called Daryl Morey a “liar” at an Adidas event in China, Embiid removed ‘Processing’ and his Philadelphia location from his X (formerly known as Twitter) bio. Embiid’s yet to publicly comment on the bio change, but on 97.5 The Fanatic on Wednesday, ESPN’s Ramona Shelbourne said the star center is “happy to be a Sixer.” She believes it was nothing more than Embiid being a troll.
There’s a reason why his name on X is Joel “Troel” Embiid. Earlier this summer, Embiid set the NBA world on fire when he said he wants to win a championship, “whether it’s in Philly or anywhere else.” He soon responded on X and confirmed he was being a troll.
Still, Embiid’s won a regular season MVP award, so next up is to win an NBA title. As much as he’d like to do so with the Sixers, the chance of that happening would quickly go down the drain if Harden pulls a Ben Simmons and sits out until he’s traded. Embiid turned 29 in March, so time is ticking for Philadelphia to take full advantage of his prime.
Leon Rose previously represented Embiid before the agent was named team president of the Knicks. New York has a combination of young players and picks to get a star trade done, so understandably, the Knicks have been labeled as the top landing spot for Embiid if he were to be on the move.
However, Kelly Iko, The Athletic’s Rockets beat writer, believes that Houston is a team that would catch Embiid’s eye.
Rockets beat writer says Houston would give Knicks competition in possible Joel Embiid trade
On The Athletic NBA Show, Kelly Iko detailed why he thinks the Rockets could steal Joel Embiid from the Knicks.
"“I’ve heard the New York angle is there as well, but another team is Houston because of the bond between Joel and Ime.”“If Joel stays this season and plays it out, that’s one thing. Moving forward from that, I do think New York and Houston are two teams to watch if it ever came to a situation where Joel said he wanted to leave, too.”"
Ime Udoka spent time in Philadelphia as a lead assistant under Brett Brown in 2019-20. Even before he was with the Sixers, Udoka had a relationship with Embiid as he coached the center in 2013 at the Adidas Nations camp (subscription required). A few weeks ago, Udoka attended Embiid’s wedding in the Hamptons.
Udoka’s entering his first season as the Rockets head coach after being suspended for the entirety of the 2022-23 season for “multiple policy violations” during his one year with the Celtics. Houston has sat at the bottom of the Western Conference standings for the past few years, but the Rockets are working to turn things around.
Daryl Morey, Houston’s GM for 13 years, would likely instead send Embiid to the Western Conference rather than to a hated division rival. The Knicks are in a better position to contend than the Rockets, so from Embiid’s perspective, he should want to go to New York if he were traded.
However, Morey and Philadelphia ending trade conversations for Harden should prove it doesn’t matter what the player wants. Morey and Harden had a great relationship dating back to their ties in Houston, but that’s since gone up in flames. There’s no guarantee the Sixers would grant Embiid’s wish to be traded to the Knicks.
The 2023-24 season will be interesting for several reasons, particularly regarding Joel Embiid’s future with the Sixers. This time next year, could he be preparing to enter the 2024-25 season with New York? Or maybe even Houston?