The Philadelphia 76ers are coming off a strong 109-98 win over the Boston Celtics, but all is not well in Philly as All-Star center Joel Embiid will miss time with a left hand injury that will be re-evaluated in one to two weeks, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
The 25-14 76ers are also fifth in an Eastern Conference that they were expected to dominate before the season, and now, Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports has written that one prominent name, that of big man Al Horford, is being "whispered in trade circles":
"Embiid’s injury puts Al Horford in position to be what he came to Philadelphia for: big man insurance, although it doesn’t seem like the best allocation of $100 million in resources to be a replacement. But if Embiid isn’t right, the 76ers are relatively easy fodder in the postseason. There’s no substitute for him, hence Horford’s name being whispered in trade circles with the deadline a little less than a month away.
"Should the 76ers make a personnel move in the coming weeks, it shouldn’t be perceived as a knee-jerk reaction to Embiid’s injury but an honest admission that the expensive roster built over the summer isn’t made for this game in this Eastern Conference."
The 33-year-old Horford is averaging 12.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists in his first season with the 76ers after signing a four-year, $109 million contract in the offseason.
It might be a bit too early to press the panic button on the 76ers' season just yet, as they are only three games behind the second-place Miami Heat with half of a season left. Philadelphia will have to forge on without Embiid in the lineup for the foreseeable future, but it's not as if the 76ers are in danger of missing the postseason.
The question Philadelphia needs to solve is how to stop its streaky play over the course of the season. The 76ers look like the NBA's best team on some nights and one of its worst on others. They have five win streaks of three or more victories and three losing streaks of three or more defeats.
Philadelphia is in the midst of an upswing now after winning its last two, but the schedule between now and the All-Star break won't be easy. Road dates with MVP candidate Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks and the 23-15 Indiana Pacers are up first.