While it was cut short, the 76ers had an impressive playoff run this season — especially when looking back at how the team fared in recent years.
Yet even though things are trending up in Philadelphia, head coach Brett Brown still thinks that the team needs one more piece before it’s capable of competing for a title.
“At some point, when the time is right, I think we need help to win a championship,” Brown said on Friday in his season-ending press conference. “If that’s the goal — and for me and us it is — then that’s the answer I give.”
So who do the 76ers want to go after?
The first name that comes to mind is obviously LeBron James. Philadelphia has been rumored as a favorite to sign James this offseason for some time — especially after he was rumored to have been looking at area schools for his kids. Philadelphia has the cap space — about $30 million — to sign James outright this July, too.
James, though, denied rumors he was looking at schools in Philadelphia, and has been relatively quiet about his free agency plans.
Another name, though, has surfaced recently for the 76ers. According to Philly.com’s Keith Pompey, the 76ers are interested in signing San Antonio star Kawhi Leonard.
Don’t be surprised if they also try to acquire San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard in a trade. Sources have said the Sixers have expressed interest in the two-time all-star. While he is eligible for a five-year, $219-million “super-max” extension with the Spurs this summer, there are reports that Leonard wants out after staying away from the team for most of the season with a quad injury. He played in only nine games.
Leonard has a great relationship with Sixers coach Brett Brown. However, trading for him would be risky without first getting a guarantee that he’ll agree to a contract extension. Leonard is set to become a free agent on July 1, 2019.
Leonard, who was the 2013-14 NBA Finals MVP, missed the first 27 games this season with a right quadricep injury. He returned in December, but played in only nine games before re-injuring his leg. He didn’t play in a game the rest of the season. Should the 76ers make a move for Leonard, that would all but ensure that they can’t also sign James.
It only makes sense that the 76ers will go after James first — who in the league wouldn’t? But should that fall through, Leonard will definitely be a name to keep an eye on.
And, who knows? After the way this season went for Leonard, he may want a change of pace from Gregg Popovich’s system in San Antonio.
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