Could Sixers complete blockbuster trade with Cavaliers if Joel Embiid is on board at number three?


While I’m still disgusted with the outcome of the draft-lottery, I put aside my new-found disdain for the city of Cleveland, once Jared Mueller of Factory of Sadness (Fansided’s Cleveland local site) reached out to me, asking my thoughts on a draft-day scenario that he brainstormed up.

Before I give my thoughts, let’s take a look at the scenario that Jared has unfolding.

  • The Cavaliers hold onto their pick at number one and select Andrew Wiggins, meaning the #winlessforwiggins should have been more like #dontwinalotandletthesystembailyououtforwiggins.
  • The Milwaukee Bucks take Jabari Parker with the second selection.

Here is where his scenario begins to unfold.

"With the Third Pick the 76ers…Last year the 76ers traded for injured Nerlens Noel, a defensive minded center who sat out all last year. With Embiid the only one of the big 3 left on the board the 6ers feel a bit trapped by their options. Embiid and Noel couldn’t play together with any spacing. (Side note: Anthony Davis and Noel would of been a perfect fit on both ends of the floor, if the Pelicans didn’t make this trade.) None the less the 76ers now sit with a prime pick that doesn’t fit a need. They could look to move it to a team wanting to move up or could trade to move the pick for a young player, depth for their roster and future assets to continue their rebuild. Enter the Cavaliers."

Let me first respond by saying that I think the idea of passing on someone who is perhaps the best talent in this draft, just because you have Nerlens Noel, is flawed. First off, Noel has never played a game in the NBA and while I think he is going to turn into a game-changing player on the defensive side of the ball, passing on Joel Embiid would be putting a lot of stock in someone who you have never actually seen on an NBA court. Secondly, I believe at the number three pick that the Sixers should take the best player available. It isn’t like they are one piece away from being a title contender, they are still years away. I think you take Embiid, and try to formulate a plan that both Embiid and Noel can be successful on the court at the same time, which would likely mean slotting Noel at the four. On paper, that sounds like a combination that could make the Sixers a dominantly athletically defensive team, after the two get time to gel. If the two can’t gel, then you can look to move either Noel or Embiid in a few years. (If Embiid turns into the player he is expected to be, then you would likely be moving Noel).

The only scenario where I wouldn’t take Embiid, is if scouts truly have enough concerns about his back issues, to think that he won’t be able to have sustained success in the NBA. I didn’t get that sense based off of his recent workouts, but in that case, the Cavaliers likely wouldn’t be looking at making a trade for Embiid’s services.

But for the sake of the fact that we need to find daily 76ers’ draft content to discuss, let’s say Embiid is one the board at three, and the Sixers aren’t against the idea of moving the pick. Jared proposed this franchise-changing scenario, that could very well go on to shape the fates of both teams for the next decade.

"The Cavs trade Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, the Heat, Grizzlies and their own ’15 1st Rounders for the #3 Pick and Thaddeus YoungThe 76ers pick up the hometown boy in Waiters who slides in next to Michael Carter-Williams for a dynamic backcourt that fits together better then Waiters and Kyrie Irving. MCW looks to pass and has improved his jump shot. Waiters can play on or off the ball and shoulder the wing scoring load for the 76ers, who have zero wing players of note at this time. Thompson, or Anderson Varejao, give the 6ers more depth in their front court and allow them to move the money Young is owed, both this year and next. The 3 first round picks may seem like a lot but the Cavs see a rare opportunity to build a young squad cheap, in the best draft in years, and sacrifice 1 year of their own pick and the extra picks they acquired. The 76ers still have the 10th pick as well as multiple 2nd round picks to build their team on youth while letting the core of MCW, Waiters and Noel grow together. They could have a Top 5 pick next year as well as two middle of the first picks and a later first to finish their youth movement quickly."

That’s a lot to take in. The Grizzles will likely be picking in the 20s in the 2015 draft (the pick is top five protected and 15-30 protected, which according to SB Nation’s Conrad Kaczmarek forces it to be a lottery pick for the team that acquires it). While another lottery pick would be nice, the Sixers wouldn’t be able to get it if it was a top-five pick, and the selection wouldn’t be in the best draft in the last decade.  Barring LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade all opting out of their contracts after this season and leaving in free-agency (which has about as much chance of happening as the Cavs getting the number one pick three times in four years), the Heat will likely be picking 29th or 30th. If the Cavs got Embiid, mixed with Thaddeus Young and Kyrie Irving, one would think they would be picking somewhere between the 15th and 20th picks, and more likely than not, wouldn’t have a lottery pick. So those three first-round picks sound nice, but the Sixers have built this plan around  not being mediocre anymore, and getting three later round picks in the first-round, likely wouldn’t bring franchise-changing players.

I’m not opposed to moving Thad, because while I like him, I think he wants to be in a contending situation. He is also 25 years-old, which is a veteran in NBA terms, and his deal is up after the 2015-16 season. While he likely wouldn’t be the type of player to get a max deal once his contract is up, Young already makes north of nine million annually, and wouldn’t be cheap to re-sign. Factor in that he would be approaching 30 and the Sixers could look to target a few max free-agents over the next couple of seasons, and Young probobly doesn’t have a long-term future in Philly. I’m just not sure that this scenario makes sense to move him as part of.

Is Dion Waiters value high-enough for a trade scenario like this to unfold? Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

As for the two players that the Sixers would be getting in return, I actually like that aspect of the proposed scenario. Dion Waiters is raw and needs to become a better player without the ball in his hands, but he would give the Sixers some of the scoring that they really lack as currently constructed. I also love his athleticism in Brett Brown’s offense. Do I like him more than Joel Embiid, though? No, and it isn’t even close. Waiters can score, but I’m still not sure that on a title-contending team that he wouldn’t be best coming off of the bench, like he did in his sophomore season at Syracuse. The Sixers need a two-guard, which Waiters could be short-term, but they have Tony Wroten as their sixth man, and despite his flaws, he has shown flashes of being a very good scorer off the bench. Essentially, my point is that I would like to acquire Waiters for the right price. I would trade Young for him straight up, because I think he can start immediately, and has the potential to develop into a very good two-guard. I’m just not confident enough in that potential to make Waiters the main piece in a trade that involves moving the number three pick in a loaded draft.

Tristan Thompson came on strong in the second-half of last season, showing an increased ability to score, and that he can grab nine and a half rebounds a game. I think offensively he could be a 13 and 10 guy next year, if given enough minutes. Much like Waiters, Thompson is a young piece that I would like to have in Philly. Move Thompson and the Heat’s first-rounder for Young, and you have a deal. I’m just not prepared to give up on the opportunity to land a star in this draft.

I’m tired of being mediocre. I’m tired of watching mediocre. If Joel Embiid is at three, he has superstar potential and I think the Sixers have to take the risk of getting out of NBA purgatory by taking him. You can find other shooting-guards and power-fowards, but you aren’t going to find a big man who can play with his back to the basket and has elite defensive potential. Despite Nerlens Noel‘s presence on the roster, taking Embiid at three, is a no-brainer.

In the end, this trade scenario taught me a few things. First off, I really like some of the pieces that the Cavaliers have. If they can find a way to get Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving to gel, get Anthony Bennett going, add in a player like Andrew Wiggins, and potentially lure another max player to Cleveland this Summer (LeBron?), they could be turn into an Eastern Conference powerhouse. (Then again, the chances of LeBron going back aren’t high in my mind, and he might step on Kyrie’s toes.) The fact that Waiters could step in an immediately be the Sixers’ leading scorer, also reminds you that the Sixers need to add a few scorers over the next couple of seasons, not just one guy at the number three pick.

This is a four or five year process that we signed up for under Sam Hinkie, not a one off-season re-tool. We’ve been through too many of those, and seen them turn into mediocrity. At the three spot, the Sixers have a chance to add their first superstar since trading Allen Iverson in 2006, only this time, they appear to have a plan to actually put a deep team around their star. Maybe Thompson or Waiters ends up in Philadelphia in a Thad Young trade, who knows? I’m just not willing to have them end up in Philly at the expense of landing a superstar.

{How the Cavs could draft both Wiggins AND Embiid}