Sixers GM Fuels Kawhi Leonard Rumors With Cryptic Comments

Kawhi Leonard free agency Snoop Dogg

Getty Kawhi Leonard will be one of the top NBA free agents on the market this summer.

The Philadelphia 76ers are marketing geniuses, at least when it comes to creating catchphrases. First, it was “Trust the Process” and the motto turned into a rallying cry for an entire city. After Thursday night’s NBA Draft, the new hit slogan has become “It’ll make sense soon.”

Sixers GM Elton Brand uttered the phrase after Thursday night’s NBA draft, an evening filled with many puzzling decisions by a team thought to be in win-now mode. The Sixers entered the draft with five total picks to burn.

By the end, they had only used one after trading the No. 24 and No. 33 picks to Boston in exchange for Matisse Thybulle. According to Brand, Thybulle was the “best defensive wing” in the draft.

Brand continued to wheel and deal and wound up acquiring future second-rounders, plus $2 million in cash considerations. The moves left many in Philadelphia wondering what in the world he was doing. The Sixers were one fluky Kawhi Leonard jumper away from possibly knocking off the world champions in the second round. It seems the GM has a plan, one that he can’t divulge yet.

“I need every dollar I can get,” Brand told reporters. “That was what a lot of those trades was about, making sure we have enough money so we can go into free agency and get the players we need. We need talent, and we actually pushed picks into the future that are very valuable. There are some trades we can’t talk about yet, but we got some really great value out of those and it’ll make sense soon.”

That last part — “it’ll make sense soon” — was trending in Philly, on sports talk radio and social media. Everyone had an opinion on what it meant. Brand’s other comment that he needs “every dollar I can get” seems to indicate the Sixers plan to spend freely once free agency hits on June 30. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Sixers have a meeting on the books with Kawhi Leonard.

“I’m told that Leonard may very well take visits in free agency, meetings at least, with the Knicks, the 76ers, possibly even the Nets in addition to the Clippers,” Wojnarowski said.

While Leonard would be the biggest chip to fall, the Sixers also have a heavy interest in bringing Jimmy Butler back. He was the undisputed leader on the floor and in the locker room for them a year ago. Butler did decline his $19.8 million player option, but that was expected. According to Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes, the Sixers are all in on keeping the 29-year-old in the fold. He’s looking for a max contract, in the range of five years and $190 million.

“Knock on wood, I will get a max contract no matter where I go,” Butler told reporters. “You always want to be able to win. I think that’s key, for sure. You’re looking at coaches, you’re looking at the city. There’s a lot that goes into it.”

Then, there is the newest rumor the Sixers have pursued veteran Al Horford. NBC Sports’ Tom Haberstroh mentioned the possibility after the big man declined his $30.1 million player option with Boston. The 33-year-old was a thorn in Joel Embiid’s side as an opponent, but teaming them in the Sixers’ frontcourt would be a nightmare matchup. The bidding for Horford is expected to start at $20 million per year.

There is also the lingering issue of what to do with Tobias Harris, another player seeking a max contract. He was streaky for the Sixers, especially in the playoffs where he disappeared for large stretches. However, he still averaged 15.1 points per game and gave the team a legitimate shooter to help space the floor. The Sixers have expressed interest in retaining him and Harris’ off-the-court relationship with Embiid seems to point in a positive direction.

Speculation always fuels speculation this time of year. The Sixers have a huge disadvantage due to the fact they are already straddling the luxury tax fence, assuming an extension for superstar Ben Simmons is in the works. The fact that Brand was scraping for every penny at the draft only further lays credence to the belief the Sixers have an ace up their sleeve — or, maybe a joker, depending on Embiid’s antics.