Sixers interest in Embiid could be a smokescreen

Sixers interest in Embiid could be a smokescreen
June 23, 2014, 6:45 pm
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BOSTON — Joel Embiid remains a player highly coveted in the eyes of teams near the top of the draft board despite growing concerns over his surgically repaired right foot.

Multiple sources have told that the earliest Embiid could be off the draft board is at No. 3 to Philadelphia.

And while the Sixers are putting out feelers about being "very interested" in Embiid, there's a growing sense that their interest is a smokescreen to acquire more assets (i.e. draft picks) from teams looking to move up and are willing to take on the risks involved in drafting the injury-plagued 7-footer.

"Philly's saying all the right things, about those two forming a Twin Towers kind of frontcourt in the future," said one league executive, referring to pairing Nerlens Noel with Embiid. "But think about it. Nerlens Noel didn't play at all this year. And don't forget about the whole Andrew Bynum fiasco! Do they want to risk going through all that again? I don't think so. If they draft Embiid, it won't be to keep him."

Although the Milwaukee Bucks (No. 2 pick) have said they have no interest in drafting Embiid, there are a number of teams besides the Boston Celtics that still have Embiid near the top of their draftboard.

With the No. 6 pick, there is a chance that Embiid will be available when it's the Celtics are on the clock.

But if Boston gets additional information on Embiid's health history as expected and it's not quite as doom-and-gloom as anticipated, they may indeed be inclined to move up in the draft to select him.

Austin Ainge, Boston's director of player personnel, said the team's focus when it comes to injured draft prospects is to focus on their long-term health as opposed to where they are currently health-wise.

"When you're drafting kids that are 19, 20, 21, it's usually best to think two years, five years down the road, will it be a concern," Ainge said. "And those are the ones we usually try to avoid."