The Philadelphia 76ers have moved seamlessly from the NBA Playoffs to the NBA rumor mill.
After being eliminated by the Boston Celtics in the second round, the Sixers are reportedly already thinking about ways to re-tool for the next season and return an even strong contender. As Philadelphia Inquirer reported, that means making a run at just about every big-name player who will be available this offseason — free agents LeBron James and Paul George and likely cast-off Kawhi Leonard.
Beat writer Keith Pompey noted that the team believes the addition of LeBron James would make the Sixers an immediate title contender, but they still have some work before they can afford it. The Sixers would likely need to free up roughly $5 million in salary to be able to pay LeBron the expected $35 million per year salary he will need.
The Sixers may have their eyes elsewhere as well. As Pompey reported, the team may make a run at acquiring San Antonio Spurs swingman Kawhi Leonard, who is expected to be on the trading block. Leonard was away from the team for the majority of the season, and insiders believe the relationship with the Spurs management is now fractured beyond repair.
Paul George, who is expected to opt out of his contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder and test free agency, could also be a target, the report added.
As CBS Sports noted, the Philadelphia 76ers also have some house cleaning of their own. Guard J.J. Redick will be a free agent, and he may need to come back at a discount if the Sixers were to afford one of the big-name free agents they are pursuing.
But the Philadelphia 76ers could have an advantage against other teams that may be bidding for LeBron James, Paul George, or Kawhi Leonard. The Sixers are stacked with young talent, and their ascent to Eastern Conference contenders appears to be ahead of schedule. There have even been some rumors that LeBron James may look to jump to the Western Conference to avoid having to face the quickly rising 76ers — that is, if he doesn’t join them first.