Sixers Desire to Add $176 Million Star Called ‘Worst-Kept Secret’: Insider

Nick Nurse

Getty Nick Nurse

The Philadelphia 76ers will have plenty of cap room this summer. With only Joel Embiid and Paul Reed on their payroll past 2024, they could use their cap space on a star. Someone like Paul George comes to mind. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Keith Pompey reported that George is indeed their target.

Pompey adds that some NBA circles believe a deal will be struck between the two sides.

“The 76ers’ desire to acquire Paul George in free agency is the NBA’s worst-kept secret,” Pompey wrote in a March 28 story. “There are some who expect both sides to reach an agreement, leading to George joining forces with Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey next season.”

George is in the third year of a four-year, $176 million contract. He has a player option for $48.8 million for the 2024-25 season. The Los Angeles Clippers have already extended Kawhi Leonard but have yet to do the same with George. If they don’t achieve their title goals, they must ponder whether George is their best option as Leonard’s running mate.

It would all depend on whether he tests free agency or not. It’s possible George may opt into his contract, which means the Sixers would have to wait a year or use their cap room on someone else.

Keith Pompey Believes Paul George is Using Sixers

Though Pompey reported the Sixers’ strong interest in George, he added his skepticism that the interest is mutual.

“Call me a cynic… I believe the small forward’s stated interest in the Sixers is about creating leverage with the Clippers.”

Though Pompey believes George would fit in seamlessly with the Sixers, he referenced the 2018 NBA Offseason for why he believes it’s a leverage play.

“I’m skeptical of this perfect fit because it isn’t the first time the Sixers and their fan base had high hopes of landing George. In the summer of 2018, they went “star hunting” to secure one of George, Leonard, or LeBron James — and struck out on all three.

“James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers. The San Antonio Spurs traded Leonard to the Toronto Raptors. And George re-signed with Oklahoma City Thunder. The belief was that George and James were only connected to the Sixers as leverage.”

Even if he doesn’t sign with the Sixers, they know that they have options at their behest.

Paul George Floated as Sixers Freee Agent Destination

Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey explained why George would fit well next to Embiid and Maxey to form a big three.

“A trio of Embiid, Maxey, and George would instantly be among the best in the East,” Bailey wrote in a March 20 story. “Embiid and Maxey already have one of the league’s best two-man games, and George has been one of the game’s best and most prolific floor spacers for years. Of course, he can slash too, but alongside Maxey and Embiid, he’d get enough wide-open threes to survive on little more than that.”

George also brings plenty of playoff experience to the Sixers, having been to three conference finals. Since the Sixers haven’t advanced past the second round since 2001, George’s influence could change all of that.