The Philadelphia 76ers recently engaged in a trade deal with the Denver Nuggets to acquire small forward Wilson Chandler. Most people believe the 76ers traded for Chandler just to address their need at the wing, but according to Dan Favale of Bleacher Report, the Sixers could be preparing to make a blockbuster deal with the San Antonio Spurs involving Kawhi Leonard.
As Favale noted, one of the major reasons why the Sixers traded for Wilson Chandler is to compensate for the potential departure of Robert Covington and/or Dario Saric.
“But having him on the roster does, in theory, make it easier for the Sixers to flip one or both of Robert Covington and Dario Saric in a potential Leonard blockbuster. Chandler can be moved around the perimeter in a similar fashion on defense, and his career 34.1 percent clip from downtown figures to improve besides the right mix of other floor-spacers.”
The Sixers are one of the NBA teams who has expressed strong interest in acquiring Kawhi Leonard from the Spurs. They currently have a plethora of trade assets that can convince the Spurs to make a deal, and Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated revealed that San Antonio could trade Leonard for a package including Dario Saric, Robert Covington, and a future first-round pick.
— Ernst Nordholt (@ErnstNordholt) July 4, 2018
Trading young and promising players like Dario Saric and Robert Covington is undeniably a huge risk for the Sixers, knowing that Kawhi Leonard could be a one-year rental. Since the start of the offseason, Leonard has told the Spurs that he prefers to be traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. Though the Spurs want to send him to an Eastern Conference team, Leonard said that he will be signing with the Lakers when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2019.
However, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (h/t RealGM) brought some good news for the Sixers. According to him, Leonard has broadened his potential free agency destinations in 2019. The Lakers aren’t the only team located in Los Angeles, and Charania said that there is “no guarantee” that the All-Star forward will sign with the Purple and Gold. Leonard is reportedly very much open to joining the Clippers. Meanwhile, if the Sixers “came hard,” Charania revealed that Leonard may consider staying in Philadelphia long-term.
If the Sixers get a commitment from Kawhi Leonard that he intends to stay beyond the 2018-19 NBA season, there is no reason for them not to make a deal with the Spurs. The “Big Three” of Leonard, Joel Embiid, and Ben Simmons will increase the Sixers’ chance of fully dominating the Eastern Conference next season. It could also make them an attractive destination for superstar free agents in the summer of 2019.
As of now, it remains unknown if the acquisition of Wilson Chandler has a direct link to the potential deal between the Sixers and the Spurs involving Kawhi Leonard. Expect more rumors to circulate around Leonard and the Sixers as the 2018 offseason goes deeper.