The Philadelphia 76ers are heavily rumored to be among the top teams in what many are referring to as the LeBron James “sweepstakes.” With the team’s sudden transformation into playoff contenders in the 2017-18 season, adding the 33-year-old James to the Sixers’ lineup could turn them into a prime candidate for a Finals run. However, acquiring LeBron would require a number of moves to free up salary cap space, and that’s exactly what the Sixers are rumored to be considering, according to a new report.
In a report that looked at various scenarios that could play out for the 76ers in the upcoming free agency season, NJ.com’s Zack Rosenblatt focused heavily on James, who will be deciding next week whether or not he will be exercising his $35 million player option with the Cleveland Cavaliers. While Rosenblatt wrote that there’s an “outside chance” James will want to return to Cleveland for one more attempt to win a championship, he noted that the Sixers and the Los Angeles Lakers will be among the top contenders for the superstar’s services.
“The Sixers are doing everything they can to clear enough cap space to sign him outright to a max contract,” Rosenblatt wrote.
According to Bleacher Report, the Philadelphia 76ers have $30.5 million of “practical cap space” to play with, meaning the amount of money they could spend for new acquisitions assuming they let veterans J.J. Redick, Marco Belinelli, Ersan Ilyasova, and Amir Johnson walk away as free agents. That figure could decline to $26 million, assuming the Sixers spend $4.1 million to sign recently drafted rookies Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet.
Since that wouldn’t be enough to sign LeBron James, both Bleacher Report and NJ.com wrote that Philadelphia could possibly dump another veteran contact — that of backup point guard Jerryd Bayless, who is due to earn $8.5 million in the 2018-19 season. If the Sixers couldn’t find a trade partner for Bayless, both publications suggested that the team could use the “stretch provision” on his contract, and have his salary paid out over three seasons.
According to Bleacher Report, young small forward Justin Anderson, who will earn $2.5 million next season, could then be traded to give Philadelphia $35 million worth of salary cap space, as he could be more attractive to other teams than Bayless, who turns 30 in August and played just 39 games in the 2017-18 season.
Should the Philadelphia 76ers be unable to acquire LeBron James, San Antonio Spurs forward/guard Kawhi Leonard, or any other big name in the 2018-19 offseason, NJ.com suggested that the team could trade for any one of several star players who might become available in the coming weeks. The publication hinted that Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum could be “at the top of the list,” with Lakers wingman Brandon Ingram an “intriguing young talent” also worth considering as compared to veterans such as Kevin Love, DeMar DeRozan, and Kyle Lowry, who are all on far more expensive, longer-term deals.