Q: Fuhgeddaboudit it with James Harden. Joel Embiid removed “Processing” and the location “Philadelphia, PA” from his Twitter bio. Biscayne Blvd is a nice address for Joel Embiid. Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler and Tyle Herro. Big Three. – Stuart.
A: So you’re trading Bam Adebayo? Look, Joel Embiid is an MVP and arguably, with all due respect to Nikola Jokic, the best true center in the NBA. But he also has never gotten past the second round of the playoffs and has a concerning injury history. I’m not sure the Heat, based on the system they have played to this point, would be so quick to deal Bam. And for all his trolling, I’m not sure Joel is going anywhere. The 76ers would sooner cast aside James Harden or Daryl Morey than Joel. It would be difficult to envision a world where the 76ers would need/have to cast Tyrese Maxey or Tobias Harris as their leading man.
Q: Help me understand, why it is that you and others feel that it’s OK for the Miami Heat to go into the tax only if Miami lands Damien Lillard but not OK to do so if the Heat stay as currently constructed? I know you don’t think so, but this year’s Heat team is just as good or better than last year’s. Yes we did lose Max Strus and Gabe Vincent but we added a quality big and wing in Thomas Bryant and Josh Richardson. So if the Heat front office doesn’t land Lillard and then doesn’t add quality depth, would they be sending a message that this team is not good enough and that last year’s playoff run to the NBA finals was a fluke? – Carlos, West Park.
A: First, the Heat will be into the tax with or without Damian Lillard (barring some stunning development). So they are paying. But the new collective-bargaining agreement also means threading a needle to avoid an even higher tax tier that significantly reduces transaction allowances. With Lillard, it would make sense to take an all-in approach. Without Lillard, there is not much out there that would make it worth upping the payroll. In fact, if you are sold that Josh Richardson and Thomas Bryant can offset the losses of Max Strus and Gabe Vincent (and I’m not), then you basically are making your case right there for financial prudence and restraint.
Q: I have interest in the NBA in-season tournament. However, it would have been better if the NBA had allowed the top basketball teams from around the world to play in the tournament, which is what European soccer does really well such as the FIFA Champions League. Having a version of that in the NBA would truly get my attention. – Rodney.
A: While I agree that the NBA In-Season Tournament is merely the regular season in different window dressing, basketball is not like world or European soccer, where leagues from multiple countries have top-tier teams. So when you suggest teams from other countries, who? Most of the elite European teams have rosters that are led by players unable to secure work in the NBA. It would be like saying there should be an NBA cup featuring top college teams. In basketball, it doesn’t work that way.