After being swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the 2020 Playoffs, rumors surrounding All-Star center Joel Embiid and his future with the Philadelphia 76ers have started to heat up once again. No matter how many times they insist that they have no plan of breaking their young star duo, most people are still expecting the Sixers to trade one of Embiid and Ben Simmons in the 2020 offseason. If they decide to make Embiid available on the trading block this fall, several teams that are in dire need of a frontcourt boost are expected to express a strong interest in adding him to their roster, including the New Orleans Pelicans.
In a recent article, Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report created a list of one trade that every eliminated playoff team could make in the 2020 offseason. For the Sixers, Swartz suggested that they could engage in a blockbuster deal with the Pelicans involving Embiid. In the proposed scenario, the Sixers would be sending a package that includes Embiid and Josh Richardson to the Pelicans in exchange for Jrue Holiday, JJ Redick, Jaxson Hayes, the No. 13 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, and a 2021 first-rounder.
Though the departure of Embiid would deeply hurt most of their fans, the potential deal would undeniably make a lot of sense for the Sixers. As Swartz noted, sending Embiid and Richardson to New Orleans would enable the Sixers to acquire quality veterans in Holiday and Redick that fit Ben Simmons’ game, a young big man in Hayes to boost their frontcourt depth, and two first-round selections that would allow them more young and promising talents on their roster.
“Whether Philly keeps Ben Simmons at power forward or moves him back to point guard, Holiday would be an ideal piece in the Sixers backcourt. A menace on defense and a talented scorer and passer on offense, he could play either guard position while defending three different positions on any given night. Redick would come back to a Philadelphia team that craves his shooting, and Hayes (the No. 8 overall pick in 2019) could develop behind Horford until he’s ready for the starting center job. The Sixers would also get a lottery pick in this year’s draft and a 2021 first-rounder from the Pelicans.”
Meanwhile, trading Holiday, Redick, Hayes, and a couple of first-rounders would undeniably be a tough decision for the Pelicans but it would be worth it if it means acquiring a player of Embiid’s caliber. Instead of throwing away a huge amount of money to bring Derrick Favors back in the 2020 free agency, the potential deal would allow the Pelicans to replace him with an All-Star caliber center who fits the timeline of Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Josh Hart.
Embiid would tremendously boost the Pelicans’ performance on both ends of the floor, giving them a very reliable scoring option, rebounder, shot-blocker, and floor-spacer. This season, the 26-year-old big man averaged 23.0 points, 11.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.3 blocks while shooting 47.7 percent from the field and 33.1 percent from beyond the arc, per ESPN. The arrival of Embiid would not immediately turn the Pelicans into an instant favorite to bring home the Larry O’Brien Trophy next year, but if he, Williamson, Ingram, Ball, and Hart grow together and build great chemistry, a new powerhouse team would soon rise in New Orleans.