The Philadelphia Sixers were believed to be a finalist to sign LeBron James, but now have to turn their attention to Kawhi Leonard with King James heading to Los Angeles. It appears the Sixers are once again competing against the Lakers, but this time for Leonard. The Lakers are reported to be Leonard’s preferred team, but recent reports indicate the Sixers are gaining traction. ESPN’s Chris Haynes reported Leonard would consider signing with the Sixers long-term.
“As @JabariJYoung pointed out, sources say Kawhi Leonard would entertain signing long-term with Philadelphia. However, if Lakers are unable to orchestra a trade of the All-Star, it’s not a given he would sign there in summer of 19,” Haynes tweeted.
ESPN’s Ian Begley reported some Sixers staff members believe Leonard would consider signing in Philadelphia if he were traded to the team.
“On the Sixers and a potential trade for Kawhi Leonard, it’s worth noting that there are several people with Philadelphia who feel confident that Leonard would strongly consider re-signing there next summer if they traded for him,” Begley tweeted.
What would the Sixers need to offer for the Spurs to pull the trigger and trade Leonard to Philly? The Sixers are not going to include Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid in any trade talks. Their next tradeable assets include future picks, Markelle Fultz and Dario Saric. The big question is what the Lakers are willing to offer, and it does not appear like the Lakers have offered a lot so far in trade discussions.
One thing the Sixers have in their favor is the Spurs are unlikely to want to simply meet Leonard’s trade demands to Los Angeles. If the trade offers have similar value, the Spurs are likely to prefer to trade James to the Eastern Conference than to help the Lakers build another powerhouse in an already stacked Western Conference. ESPN reported the Sixers have been unwilling to trade Embiid, Simmons or Fultz so far in the discussions.
The 76ers have engaged in talks with the Spurs on a potential Kawhi Leonard trade. So far, Philly has kept Fultz, Embiid and Simmons off limits in talks, team sources tell @wojespn
ESPN’s Bobby Marks reported the Sixers have about $14 million in cap space remaining after agreeing to re-sign J.J. Redick to a deal worth between $12-13 million for next season.
This puts the Sixers out of the running to sign a free agent to a max contract. With James along with Paul George off the market, there are not a lot of players remaining on the free agent market that are likely to command max money. The Sixers could look to sign a player like DeMarcus Cousins on a short-term, prove it deal if he is unable to land the lucrative contract he had expected prior to his ACL injury. Depending on what the Sixers give up in a potential Leonard deal, Philadelphia could have some remaining cap space to sign additional players.
The big question is what the Sixers are willing to give up for a player like Leonard who is likely to only guarantee playing for one season. The Spurs could site the Thunder’s success with Paul George as reason for the Sixers to take a chance on Leonard. Like Leonard, George preferred to go to the Lakers, but changed his mind after a season in Oklahoma City. The Thunder were able to sign a player like George, who was unlikely to consider them in free agency.
The other option for the Sixers is to roll out the same team they had last year. Philadelphia was able to make the second round of the playoffs with an incredibly young team. The Sixers might prefer to take their chances on the same roster with the addition of their draft picks, rather than give up young assets in a trade for Leonard. According to Spotrac, Leonard will make a little more than $20 million next season. He is slated to make $21.3 million in 2019-20 season, but can opt out of his deal next summer.