For the Philadelphia 76ers it’s been quite a rollercoaster of a year. Incredible amounts of hype surrounding the young talent on this team led fans to believe that maybe, just maybe, this team that went 28-54 last year could sneak into the playoffs. Fast forward a couple of months, the Sixers finish the year with 50+ wins, a Rookie of the Year caliber player in Ben Simmons, and a 4-1 playoff series win against the Miami Heat. This team met their match against a well-coached Celtics team in the second round, but that series was much closer than the 4-1 loss that you see. A lot of late game turnovers and other mental mistakes led the Sixers to lose that series. All things that are characteristic of a team that is so young. In time, errors like that will begin to fade away.
The real question on everyone’s mind after this season is who are the Sixers going to acquire or lose in the off season? The big name that has been floating around is Lebron James. Adding Lebron to a team that is already this good would be lethal, don’t let the naysayers fool you. Lebron can and has done anything he wants on a basketball court, so don’t think the fact that we already have a point guard would stop him. He has also expressed interest in moving towards an off ball role, much to the delight of Sixers fans. This young core with the addition of Lebron is almost a lock for the NBA Finals and perhaps a contender against the West.
If the Sixers acquired Lebron, it’s done at that point. Make a couple moves for better role players, get rid of guys hogging too much cap (Bayless and Johnson.) But Lebron may not leave the Cavs. Only time will tell. That moves us onto the other big name in free agency: Paul George. George is a fantastic player that could very well make the Sixers the best team in the East. But, you don’t get any rings for being the best in the East (much to the dismay of Lebron James.) Because of this I don’t think Paul George is the move the Sixers want to make. You’d have to sign him to a max deal so you wouldn’t have much wiggle room with the cap. This is an already great Sixers squad that could be much better next year. I don’t think giving a max to a guy who went 2-16 in an elimination game this year is the right move. If you’re going to pay the big bucks, do it for someone who’s really giving you a shot at the title.
A guy who would really give you a shot at the title is Kawhi Leonard. Kawhi is not a free agent, but chances of him returning to San Antonio look slim. Because he wants to leave, the Sixers could probably get a deal for him. His contract is still only 20 million for next year, so signing him wouldn’t break the bank at all. The only downside would be parting with the potential of a guy like Markelle Fultz, who we’d likely have to trade for him. Fultz is an easy guy to trade as of right now, but you can’t deny he has superstar potential. Kawhi on this team would be a great addition. He’s a phenomenal two way player who is known for his quietness and already has a ring under his belt. This guy could bring a lot to the table for the Sixers without making them give up too much. He’s better than Paul George and he’s cheaper than Paul George, he’s gotta be the right move between the two.
If the Sixers can’t get Kawhi or Lebron, I say they don’t go after any big contracts. Sign cheaper role players and shooters to put around Ben Simmons. You’ll have much more cap space for when the guy you really want comes around. The Sixers need to be patient, if you can’t get the free agent you want, don’t settle just to be good in the now. If you’re paying someone the max to make it to the 3rd round or finals, is it really worth it? I’d rather get knocked out in the first round with this team than make the third and lose while having to pay all that money to someone who’s not taking you to that level. Bottom line, if the Sixers jump the gun on the wrong free agent, it could cost a squad with so much potential a future of mediocrity.