The Philadelphia 76ers reportedly want Kawhi Leonard, so where would a trade start with the San Antonio Spurs? Specifically, who joins a deal from the Sixers’ side?
The latest part of the Kawhi Leonard rumor mill saw Keith Pompey of Philly.com report the Philadelphia 76ers interest in this San Antonio Spurs star. It’s not the first piece of information to swirl on Leonard and certainly won’t be the last.
If the Spurs choose to dangle Leonard and speak with teams, the Sixers certainly have the capital to offer, whether it’s the young players or the draft picks. Who leads off a deal, though?
All attention points to Markelle Fultz, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft. Like most Sixers draft picks as rookies, he barely played in his first attempt at an 82-game slate due to injury and a broken jumpshot. The Washington product appeared in just 14 games, averaging 7.1 points, 3.8 assists and 3.1 rebounds on 40.5 percent shooting.
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In the playoffs, Sixers coach Brett Brown sat Fultz for most of their first-round series and all of the conference semifinals, which the team lost 4-1.
Philadelphia still stayed competitive without Fultz, and one could say they missed a primary scorer between Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, specifically a wing. Instead of lining up floor-spacers next to them (JJ Redick, Ersan Ilyasova, Marco Belinelli), a Kawhi Leonard, Paul George or LeBron James (in Philly’s perfect world) better fits this description.
It means Fultz is expendable, but only if a trade scenario arises. If George goes to the Los Angeles Lakers and James stays with the Cleveland Cavaliers, it leaves Leonard, who’s not guaranteed to be on the move this summer, and can sign a gaudy $219 million extension with the Spurs.
Despite the questions on Fultz’s future, he’s the 76ers’ main asset to send to the Spurs. Dario Saric developed into a quality player in his sophomore campaign, but is he a future star? The No. 10 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, if it remains that way after Tuesday’s lottery, should not lead a deal, either. However, if lottery shenanigans ensue and the Sixers get a lucky ping-pong ball, could it be ammunition to get Leonard?
Will the Sixers get one of their targets and pry Leonard from the Spurs? We’re far away from that possibility, but it’s one to follow as the offseason unfolds.