Sixers head back to the drawing board as draft approaches

Joel Embiid Kansas Celtics NBA Draft Joel Embiid was almost a consensus No. 1 overall pick before news of his broken foot sent shockwaves through the NBA. Credit: Getty Images

Luck hasn’t been on the side of the Sixers leading up to the NBA draft as consensus top pick Joel Embiid underwent surgery Friday to repair the navicular bone in his right foot. The seven-footer is expected to miss the next 4-6 months in recovery and many expect the injury to severely hurt his draft stock on Thursday.

Most mock drafts now point to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Milwaukee Bucks taking Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins with the top two picks, leaving the Sixers in a bind at pick No. 3.

It’s been widely reported that the Sixers ownership ‘covet’ Kansas swingman Andrew Wiggins, but with the latest news it’s hard to believe he’ll fall to the team on draft night.

Possibly gearing up to move in another direction, the Sixers brought in point guards Dante Exum and Marcus Smart for individual workouts Sunday. Many, including ESPN’s Chad Ford, now see Exum as an option for the Sixers with their top selection.

If anyone should know the Australian guard, it’s Sixers coach Brett Brown. As coach of the Australian national team, Brown invited the then 15-year-old Exum to workout with the team. Brown also coached Exum’s father, Cecil, when Brown was an assistant with the Melbourne Tigers.

Another possibility for the Sixers at No. 3 is Indiana big man Noah Vonleh, who worked out with the team on Thursday. Vonleh averaged 11.3 points and nine rebounds per game last season for the Hoosiers. He’d be a possible replacement for Thaddeus Young, whose name is being linked to a slew of trades leading up to the draft.

Would Sam Hinkie take a risk on Embiid? It’s not out of the question. As coach Brown told 97.5 The Fanatic’s Mike Missanelli on Thursday, “Sam is very calculated at what he does. He did it before [trading for an injured Nerlens Noel], he may decide to do it again.”

Noel hasn’t played in a competitive basketball game since February 12, 2013. He sat out all of last season for the Sixers as he recovered from a torn ACL in his left knee. If Embiid is Hinkie’s guy, he’d be willing to do the same with him next season.

For Hinkie it’s all about rebuilding and finding the best possible fits to his puzzle. Expect him to be very active on draft night in trying to acquire the players he likes the best.

Trade rumors

The Sixers have been linked to several trades this past week. According to reports, the Cleveland Cavaliers are increasingly interested in trading the No. 1 overall pick. Knowing that their target Joel Embiid is likely to fall, many see the Sixers at No. 3 as one of the teams seeking to trade up in order to draft Andrew Wiggins.

The Sixers could package a deal surrounding the No. 3 pick, Thaddeus Young and a couple of second rounders for No. 1, but the Cavs would likely want the Sixers’ No. 10 pick as well for the deal to get done.

ESPN also reported that the Lakers have interest in trading point guard Steve Nash and the No. 7 pick to the Sixers for Michael Carter-Williams and Thaddeus Young. This deal would make sense for the Sixers if they’re looking to draft point guard Dante Exum at No. 3, but Sam Hinkie would have to think long and hard about trading away the 2014 NBA Rookie of the Year.

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