Earlier this offseason, the Sixers seemed like the favorite to sign LeBron James. I mean, how could The King say no? The Sixers supporting cast would be an obvious upgrade from what he’s dealt with in Cleveland. Embiid and Simmons are budding stars and have the potential to be the new face of the NBA. And they have a coach who in his first year with a competent team won 52 games and got them to the second round of the playoffs. The sky is the limit for the Sixers, and what better way to complete The Process than to bring in the undisputed GOAT of our generation.
It seemed like the stars were aligned for this to happen, and then Bryan Colangelo and the burner accounts happened, and yet again the Sixers are being laughed at around the league. Before the whole twitter fiasco, Vegas had the Sixers as the odds on favorite to land LeBron in free agency. Surprisingly, since the scandal and BC’s inevitable departure, the Sixers have only dropped one spot in the Vegas odds.
However, with rumors swirling about a potential super team assembling in LA, the Lakers have now jumped the Sixers as the favorite to bring in LeBron. It’s no secret that Paul George is seriously considering going to play for his hometown Lakers, and that Spurs’ star Kawhi Leonard prefers to play in LA. If those two did end up teaming up in LA, I don’t know if LeBron would be able to say no to that. PG and Kawhi are two of the best two-way players in the league. They would be able to cover the likes of KD or James Harden, while LeBron could save his energy to take over offensively. It would be the best team LeBron has ever been a part of in my opinion.
So where does that leave the Sixers? There’s still a chance that they get LeBron. While it’s not ideal to head into the draft and free agency without a general manager, it could be used as tool to lure The King to Philly. “You can choose your general manager”, is a hell of a pitch, especially for a someone who’s garnered a reputation for wanting to be in control over his organization’s decisions.
Let’s just say that that super team does form in LA and the three best free agents or tradable players are off the board. Should the Sixers still pursue a middle of the line free agent or put a package together to trade for someone like CJ Mcollum? I say no, and here’s why: the process, since it’s conception, has been predicated on playing the long game and building a team that can last long-term. It was never about signing super stars to jump start a championship run. So why not let this team play another season together and continue to build chemistry and develop their game?
I know that’s an unpopular opinion, especially in the NBA landscape we see today. But as far as I’m concerned, the Sixers are ahead of schedule heading into this offseason. I really thought winning 45 games this season would’ve been a huge accomplishment for this team, and winning a playoff series would’ve just been the cherry on top. Instead, they ended up winning 52 games and winning their first series against the Heat in dominant fashion.
I think if this team can improve next season with the core that they have now, it’ll make Philly a no brainer for any free agent next offseason who’s looking to win a championship.
We’ve only seen one season of this nucleus; who’s to say this team can’t reach 60 wins by themselves? Simmons was a phenom and didn’t even have a jump shot, Fultz had a triple double and only played 13 games during the season, Embiid’s game was refined and he became even more of a force on the defensive end, and Saric proved he can shoot the 3-ball consistently.
All of these players will improve again in 2018, and that development alone should carry them to a top three seed in the East. Then they can go into the 2019 offseason with the cap room to bring in a superstar, and they’ll be an even more appealing destination than they are this offseason.
Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving, and Jimmy Butler are all either free agents or have a player option next season and would all be perfect fits on the Sixers. Not to mention if Portland doesn’t make any noise next season, Damian Lillard might want out there as well.
I understand the hype around possibly bringing LeBron to South Philly, but at this point I don’t even think coming here would be in LeBron’s best interest. The LA super team is much more appealing, and at this point it looks more likely too. Not getting LeBron or any big name free agents this offseason doesn’t mean the Sixers are screwed. There’s no doubt in my mind they will be a top three seed in the East next year, and find themselves perfectly positioned to add that “final piece” in Summer 2019.