Report: New York Knicks among teams monitoring how James Harden saga will play out and affect Joel Embiid

Mike Battaglino
3 Min Read
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks reportedly are among the most interested NBA teams that are closely watching how the James Harden trade situation is resolved by the Philadelphia 76ers and the possible reaction it might draw from Joel Embiid.

“Meanwhile, teams around the league – especially the New York Knicks – are monitoring how the Harden saga plays out in Philadelphia and will affect the happiness of MVP Joel Embiid,” wrote Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. “The Knicks have long admired Embiid and have significant draft capital to dangle. Embiid’s former agent was Leon Rose, who now leads New York’s front office.”

Harden this offseason opted into his contract reportedly as a way to help facilitate a trade. Though a return to the Houston Rockets was thought to be possible, Harden reportedly has set his sights on landing with the Los Angeles Clippers and apparently removed the 76ers from his social media bios.

The return the 76ers get in such a trade might go a long way in determining Embiid’s future with the team. He recently used the words “or anywhere else” when discussing his desire to win an NBA championship, and the Knicks have for some time been watching the dynamic in Philadelphia to see if it gets so bad that the 29-year-old eventually asks out.

The Knicks, for their part, seemingly covet players on other teams, with a reported lasting interest in someday acquiring Cleveland Cavaliers star Donovan Mitchell.

As far as the 76ers are concerned, they are coming off yet another brutal playoff disappointment. They were one win from eliminating the Boston Celtics in the playoffs last season and advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time with Embiid but then lost Game 6 at home and Game 7 by 24 points to fall to 0-5 in second-round series since his NBA debut in 2016.

A continuing combination with Harden may not be the way to end their 40-year championship drought either, with the 33-year-old having not reached the NBA Finals since 2012 with the Oklahoma City Thunder and carrying a reputation for coming up small in some of his most important games.

This offseason, the 76ers have added Patrick Beverley, Mo Bamba and Montrezl Harrell on one-year contracts.

Embiid won NBA MVP honors last season for the first time, averaging 33.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.7 blocks per game while playing 66 regular season contests.

Moves by stars almost always have domino effects throughout the NBA, and whatever happens with the 76ers and their top two players is likely to continue that trend.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has focused on New York sports. He has covered the NBA and NFL for almost three decades and is still waiting for the next championship for the Knicks and Jets.