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This stretch without Embiid will determine what the Sixers do at the trade deadline

The Philadelphia 76ers have been without superstar Joel Embiid since January 6th. That night, he suffered a torn ligament in his ring finger during a home win against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Embiid opted for surgery and was expected to be on the shelf for six weeks. During a recent reevaluation, he has been cleared for non-contact and conditioning activity. This makes for a realistic possibility that Embiid returns just before the February 6th trade deadline.

The Problem

Just before his injury, the team was riding a rough four-game losing streak. This led to everyone in Philadelphia pondering the possibility of a trade of either Embiid, Ben Simmons or another starter. The public perception is that Embiid and Simmons are not a good fit together on the court. This is because of Simmons’ reluctance to shoot the ball. The only way for him to score is around the rim. Embiid also does most of his scoring around the rim and occupies the post. Include Al Horford, who is not really a threat as a stretch four, creating more spacing problems.

As a reuslt of all this, the Sixers’ main starting lineup has three players who can only score in the paint.

The Case for Embiid

The front office most likely won’t trade Embiid; he is the face of the franchise and the poster child for “The Process” from when it first started. Considered a generational talent, Embiid has outstanding footwork for a player his size and is a respectable three-point shooter among centers in the league.

The Case for Simmons

As for Simmons, he is also considered a generational talent. No other team has a guard of his size and speed. On the offensive end, he is difficult to stop in transition and is a playmaker. He has incredible basketball instincts. On defense, Simmons can guard anyone and shows good hustle with active hands. He is a potential Defensive Player of the Year candidate. The problem lies in his jump shot; during his career, Simmons has neglected to improve his willingness to shoot more, let alone his ability to shoot. It is obvious that a jump shot that defenders have to honor will increase his potential tremendously.

There are plenty of teams who would love to acquire the services of Simmons. There have been rumors of a possible Simmons and D’Angelo Russell swap. Is it wise to move on from a talent like Simmons this early in his career?

The Case for Horford

Al Horford signed with the Sixers this past summer. He has filled in very nicely during Embiid’s absence. His veteran presence is important to this team, but the emergence of Norvel Pelle gives the Sixers a cheaper option in a crowded frontcourt. Horford is the ideal person to trade in this entire scenario, but his contract salary will make it difficult. It’s not like his performance this season overall will intrigue other teams to pay up either.

What Could Also Happen

These Sixers are 4-2 without Embiid during this stretch. They have benefitted from the return of Matisse Thybulle, who provides great defense and a shooting threat for a rookie. Furkan Korkmaz has burst onto the scene the past two games, increasing his three-point shooting percentage to 40 percent midway through the season. He scored a career-high 24 points against the Bulls on Friday. Tobias Harris has been shooting much better from behind the arc as of late. So it could be entirely possible that the Sixers try to solve their offensive spacing and shooting problems from within and make no trades come February.

In the end, Elton Brand will have to make the most difficult decision of his young career as General Manager.

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