All kinds of reports and rumors are flying around with the NBA Draft only five days away and free agency opening on July 1. They include...
* Joel Embiid could slip to Orlando at four and likely won't get past the Celtics (6) or Lakers (7)
The entire 2014 draft shifted upon news this week that the 7-footer from Kansas via Cameroon needed and would have foot surgery after breaking the navicular bone in his right foot. That same injury derailed the careers of Bill Walton and Yao Ming. It's also one Michael Jordan dealt with.
Before the injury, it appeared Embiid was a lock for the Cavaliers at No.1. Immediately after the news, some reports had the skilled big-man slipping deep into the lottery. More on debunking this angle in a moment, but first, here are the most likely scenarios:
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- Cleveland and Philadelphia swap first rounders with the 76ers taking Andrew Wiggins first overall while the Cavs grab Embiid at three and pick up additional help via players or picks. The injury suddenly put Philadelphia in a tough spot as the 76ers don't really have a spot for Embiid - or at least not him and Nerlens Noel - and reportedly covets Kansas' other starry prospect.
- The 76ers go down the same route as last season with Noel by drafting an injured center even if it immediately puts a damper on any 14-15 hopes. Philly won't be making the playoffs anyway. They also have the No. 10 pick to use for immediate help plus a truckload of second-round selections.
- Orlando recognizes the upside and takes Embiid at four (This is how my mock 3.0 unfolded). The Magic have an interesting roster, but no centerpiece. They also have the 12th pick.
- The Celtics and Lakers, two teams that can always re-load because they're considered destination franchises, take the risk that Embiid's injury isn't that devastating to his future.
Even in what is considered a very deep draft, Embiid stands out as a potential franchise player. Not even Wiggins nor Jabari Parker have such consensus. No doubt, the risk just increased for those thinking Embiid, but some teams must accept the reality that for them to get stars they must draft them. Cleveland (lost James) and Orlando (lost Dwight Howard) should understand better than most.
*The 76ers select Dante Exum or Marcus Smart at three - and trade Michael Carter-Williams to the Lakers?
The entire rumored deal also has Thaddeus Young to the Lakers and Steve Nash (or at least his contract) headed to Philadelphia. The idea of trading MCW just after the point guard was voted NBA Rookie of the Year seems bizarre on the surface, but don't let the award fool you. The lengthy Carter-Williams is an intriguing talent, but last season he was simply the best of a brutal rookie class. One NBA scout told me none of the 2013 prospects would rank among the top-10 in 2014.
Though in theory the 6-foot-6 Exum and 6-foot-7 Carter-Williams could play together, Philly reportedly ranks the Aussie as a higher point guard prospect than the former Syracuse star. By adding Los Angeles' first round pick, the 76ers could also take a shot with Embiid at three and grab a point guard at seven.