Less than one week removed from another disappointing playoff exit, Joel Embiid's future with the Philadelphia 76ers has become the subject of rumors and speculation involving the New York Knicks.
NBA insider Marc Stein on Substack addressed the Embiid-Knicks talk as "strictly media chatter" right now: "There are no legs to it...YET."
Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News reported on Friday that he's been told since midseason Embiid "is the guy to watch for the Knicks," and the Sixers' playoff loss to the Boston Celtics "only intensified that belief."
The Sixers are facing the possibility of losing James Harden this summer. Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported there's a belief among NBA executives that the 10-time All-Star will opt out of his deal and sign with the Houston Rockets.
Losing Harden would leave Philadelphia in a tricky spot as it tries to build around Embiid. The team is already searching for a new head coach after firing Doc Rivers on Tuesday.
Per ESPN's Bobby Marks, the Sixers would have access to the $12.2 million taxpayer mid-level exception if Harden signs with a team that has cap space, but they can't get under the cap unless Harden leaves and trade Tobias Harris.
Obviously, trading Embiid would also get Philadelphia under the cap. But that would, likely be a last-resort option only if he demands to be moved. Next season marks the first year of Embiid's four-year, $210 million contract signed in August 2021.
There has been no indication at this point Embiid wants to leave the 76ers. The reigning NBA MVP had a rough postseason with 23.7 points on 43.1 percent shooting and 9.8 rebounds per game in nine starts.
Embiid suffered a sprained LCL in Game 3 of the first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets that kept him out for two games.
The Knicks have the potential to strike while the iron is hot this offseason. They won a playoff series this year for the first time since 2012-13. Jalen Brunson established himself as a star player in his first season in New York.
New York has 11 first-round draft picks over the next seven years, plus potential trade chips like Immanuel Quickley, RJ Barrett and Obi Toppin to upgrade the roster for next season.