The Philadelphia 76ers are throwing their hat into the ring to bid for the coveted Spurs superstar.
The last 36 hours have been a whirlwind if you’re a Spurs fan and it doesn’t look to calm down until Kawhi Leonard has been traded. With free agency rapidly approaching, various suitors from around the league have ratcheted up the intensity of their trade negotiations with the Spurs.
The Philadelphia 76ers are one of the latest teams to seriously enter the Leonard sweepstakes, as their front office is competing with the Los Angeles Lakers who are reportedly offering a “Godfather”-like deal to lure the estranged superstar away from the Alamo City. LA’s acquisition of Leonard would be pivotal as they attempt to construct their own superteam consisting of Leonard, LeBron James and Paul George, who opted out of his current contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder Thursday morning.
The 76ers are star-hunting this summer and, with their sights set on Leonard, Philly is in the process (no pun intended) of pooling together assets to offer San Antonio. Sixers management is currently discussing a package that would include Dario Saric, Robert Covington and a first round pick in exchange for Kawhi.
While Kawhi’s group has been outspoken about the Lakers being his top preference, Leonard has also stated that he would not rule out a trade to a large market team such as Boston, Philadelphia or New York.
A potential trade with Philly makes a lot of sense if you’re the Spurs. First, the team would receive capable starters in Saric and Covington who could contribute immediately for the Spurs.
Saric followed up his All-Rookie season with an excellent sophomore year, averaging 14.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists. With two years still left of his rookie-scale contract, the Spurs would not be taking on a significant financial burden with Saric.
Further, Covington has also developed into a reliable 3-and-D player who garnered First Team All-Defensive honors this past season and ranked 6th in the league in steals. Both Saric and RoCo are adept three-point shooters and would provide much needed relief for a team that struggled in that department last year.
Second, the Spurs could also get a first round pick out of this deal. The Sixers acquired an unprotected 2021 Miami Heat first round pick from the Phoenix Suns on draft night, which would most likely also be on the move to San Antonio in any trade with Philly.
Last, the Spurs would be able to ship Kawhi to the Eastern conference and could break up a potential James-Leonard-PG alliance in LA. Pop has always been adamant about not sending Kawhi to a Western conference foe if he can help it. If Kawhi gives Philadelphia any indication that he may have an interest in teaming up with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, Pop would surely rather have that than sending him to Los Angeles.
It’s unclear if the conversations between SA and Philly will intensify over the next 24-36 hours but if the Sixers are truly committed to landing a star during free agency then making a splash to acquire Leonard might be worth surrendering a few picks and players.