There is no doubt that the Philadelphia 76ers have gotten better by leaps and bounds, as they are set to secure the third spot in the East. Despite their improvement, the Philly Voice reported that the team still has room to make an upgrade for next season, and a potential Kawhi Leonard trade with the San Antonio Spurs was mentioned.
Philadelphia nipped the Cleveland Cavaliers, 132-130, on Friday night to eventually overtake the defending Eastern Conference champions as the third seed. They have three games left before the postseason begins and those are against the Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks, and Milwaukee Bucks. Of the three, only the Bucks are playoffs-bound, which means that the Sixers have the opportunity to finish the regular season strong.
The report said that even though the club already has the young core of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons to secure their future, Philadelphia is still looking “to add the final piece” that will finally propel them back as title contenders in the NBA.
The Sixers are currently linked to none other than Cavaliers superstar LeBron James, as Philadelphia is said to be one of the King’s possible landing spots in free agency this summer. However, rumors abound that they are also interested in trading for Leonard in the coming offseason.
Latest speculations are out that the 26-year-old Leonard is “unhappy” with his current situation in San Antonio and he could eventually request for a trade at the end of the season. According to ESPN, the two-time NBA All-Star is currently in New York rehabbing his quad injury while the Spurs are trying to secure a postseason slot in the Western Conference playoffs race.
Several teams are rumored to be interested in acquiring Leonard this summer, most notable are the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. Just recently, the Sixers have joined that list, and the Philly Voice’s Kyle Neubeck suggested a trade package that could potentially land them the former NBA Finals MVP.
Neubeck said a combination of Dario Saric, Markelle Fultz, and Jerryd Bayless may be enough to convince the Spurs to let go of Leonard. The suggested trade would be successful, as per ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine.
The reporter noted that even though Saric’s defense is not in the league of the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, the Croatian’s catch-and-shoot ability is similar to that of Leonard’s. Saric has been making 41.6 percent of his shots from beyond the arc in catch-and-shoot situations, which would be valuable for San Antonio in the long run.
Meanwhile, Fultz is virtually a risk given his current injury struggles. However, Neubeck believes that at 19-years-old, the 2017 first overall pick is “potentially an elite-level shot creator for himself and others” that could surprise everyone under head coach Gregg Popovich’s mentorship.
Bayless is merely seen as a cap filler to match salaries and close the trade. The 10-year veteran has only played 39 games this season after he was ruled out for the rest of year due to a left wrist injury.