The conventional wisdom around the league is that Daryl Morey will trade Ben Simmons before the Feb. 10 trade deadline because he doesn’t want to “waste” a year of Joel Embiid‘s prime. Morey doesn’t necessarily see it that way, and while Simmons trade chatter is picking up there is no real movement toward a deal so far.
One guy not pushing for a trade? Joel Embiid.
And his voice matters. Here is what Embiid said, via NBC Sports Philadelphia.
“I feel great,” he said. “A bunch of teams had COVID issues, but we had COVID issues. Any team without their best player, it’s going to be hard to win. But when I look at where we are when we’ve got most of the team healthy — and especially me in the lineup — I think we are 21-9. That’s not bad. That’s up there with the best records in the NBA. All that tells me is we’ve just got to stay healthy, keep doing what we’ve been doing.
“We’ve struggled a little bit offensively, but during this stretch we’ve been very good offensively, just moving the ball. These guys, they just allow me to do what I do best offensively and defensively. But I feel pretty good, and I don’t think we’ve played our best basketball yet. We’ve still got a long way to go. We’re missing guys here and there that could really help us. There’s really no urgency to change anything. I think we’ve got everything we need. We’re going to keep on going. I’m happy.”
This is Embiid spouting the company line and taking some pressure off Morey, but he is also picking up the guys in the locker room. It’s a “we don’t need anyone else, we got this” message to a team that has won 8-of-9. Philadelphia sits as the fifth seed in the East and is within striking distance of hosting a playoff round.
That said, these 76ers do not appear a threat to a healthy Nets or Bucks team. Embiid himself would be a problem for those teams (or any opponent) but there is not enough around him to contend. That’s why Morey wants a second star player in a Ben Simmons trade, but that may not be available by Feb. 10. The Sixers have some decisions to make.
But Embiid is comfortable with the team he’s got.