By: Kylan Watson
The Philadelphia 76ers are entering the 2018 NBA offseason with one important goal, to find a star player who can help them win a championship and complete “The Process.” The 76ers peaked a lot sooner than most fans and experts thought they would. The 76ers ended the season with a 52-30 record, they made the playoffs for the first time in six years, and they have a solid young core to build around. Many free agents may flock to Philly to play with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. However, the Sixers need a player who can create their own shot and play defense. If the 76ers can get a big name free agent like LeBron James, Paul George, or trade for Kawhi Leonard they will be able to cement themselves as title contenders.
Last week, the Sixers made their first big move of the off-season by drafting Villanova Forward, Mikal Bridges in the NBA Draft. Bridges was a two-way player who could shoot and would have been a perfect fit for the Sixers. However, the Sixers traded his rights to the Phoenix Suns for Texas Tech Guard, Zhaire Smith and an unprotected first round pick in 2021. When the trade was completed, many people wondered what the Sixers were thinking. Trading Bridges, a hometown player who was more NBA ready than Smith.
According to CBS Philadelphia, Sixers Coach and Interim President of Basketball Operations, Brett Brown said, “That was one of the most difficult things personally that I have ever gone through, and you always have to do what is best for the organization. And so to have that unprotected first round draft pick is gold. To be able to use that to instigate a trade is gold.” (https://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2018/06/22/brett-brown-star-hunting-nova-mikal-bridges/, 6-22-18)
Brown made an impressive move. The Sixers used Bridges to get the player they wanted and were able to gain another asset. That could be pivotal to landing a star player. The two players the Sixers have targeted are LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard.
The Sixers are top contenders to sign James if he chooses to opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent. James may be really intrigued by playing with Embiid and Simmons. By coming to Philadelphia, LeBron could extend his career by mentoring Simmons and Embiid and leaning on their young talent to preserve himself for a deep playoff run. James is more of a want for the Sixers than a need.
The best fit for the Sixers this off-season maybe Kawhi Leonard who still has one year left on his current deal, and the Sixers would have to trade some assets to get Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs. It may be worth it though because the Sixers need a two-way player who can shoot, and Kawhi Leonard fits the need for the Sixers. Additionally, he is a Finals MVP and has championship experience. The Sixers need more vets with playoff experience, and Kawhi Leonard could also be a scoring and defensive lift for the Sixers who need a consistent scorer and defender.
The Sixers will be a huge player during the free agency period. They are associated with all the big name free agents. Do not be surprised if the Sixers are able to get some big-name players when free agency starts on Sunday, July 1st. The Sixers are star hunting and looking to complete “The Process,” and they have enough assets to do it.