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Joel Embiid trolls Ben Simmons one last time

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The 76ers have officially replaced their broken chain, but Joel Embiid is not done trolling. After receiving James Harden and Paul Milsap in exchange for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and two first-round picks, the big men took his last shot at Simmons before he boarded that plane. This was one last sayonara for the road that gave the rest of the league and its fans a solid smile. 

Two spoiled kids got what they wanted

If Harden hadn’t done it already with his Houston bailout (still less than a year ago today), then this trade will rupture seismic shifts in how players under contract can force themself out with no consequences. Two guys, both faking injuries/going awol, got placed in the best possible situations. So who can blame future players for ditching teams anytime they feel like it? 

Because like Chuck said, if ‘he got traded, his healthy now.’ 

Magic Johnson is right on the money

A little thought experiment: if you made an All-Time team of one player’s teammates and didn’t include that targeted player, the greatest candidates would consist of (allow me some positional flexibility here):

Larry Bird

PG: Dennis Johnson
SG: Danny Ainge
SF: Reggie Lewis
PF: Kevin McHale
C: Dave Cowens

LeBron James

PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Dwayne Wade
SF: Chris Bosh
PF: Kevin Love
C: Anthony Davis

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Kobe Bryant

PG: Nick Van Exel
SG: Eddie Jones
SF: Andrew Bynum
PF: Pau Gasol
C: Shaq

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

PG: Oscar Robertson
SG: Gail Goodrich
SF: James Worthy 
PF: Jamaal Wilkes
C: Magic Johnson

But none of that matches;

James Harden

PG: Chris Paul
SG: Kyrie Irving
SF: Russell Westbrook
PF: Kevin Durant 
C: Joel Embiid

The point of that experiment is to realize that if this doesn’t work for Harden with all that help - arguably the most help ever, and his career isn't done yet - then that will be his legacy. Not the beard. Not the scoring titles. Not the MVPs or the stepbacks. ‘James Harden had more help than anyone ever and was unable to win a championship’.

With how the East is looking now, it might translate to him forever not making a Finals appearance once he turned into an All-Star. But there’s something deeper to take from that list. 

Out of all those players, the one that complements Harden’s style the most is clearly Joel Embiid. A team’s value is not the sum of its talent but of its most complimentary dynamics surrounded by clear and embraced roles. So the fact that James Harden has never played with an elite pick-and-roll threat is mind-boggling. The same can be said for Embiid, who can operate in his space without being fearful of clogging or immediate double teams. 

This will be something to behold.

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