76ers

Report: Sixers interested in Kawhi Leonard

Report: Sixers interested in Kawhi Leonard

The Sixers aren't making any secrets about it: they're going big-game hunting in hopes of adding a third star. 

So ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski's report Wednesday that the Sixers, in addition to the Lakers, are interested in Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard doesn't come as a surprise. Wojnarowski noted that the Sixers have both the assets to trade for Leonard and the potential cap space to sign him outright next summer.

But what's most notable about the report is there's still a chance the Sixers won't even have an opportunity to acquire Leonard. 

The Spurs turned down an offer for Leonard from the Celtics in February and "remain resistant" to trading their superstar forward, per Wojnarowski. Head coach Gregg Popovich and Leonard are expected to meet "sooner than later" to see if repairs can be made to the relationship between the Spurs and their franchise player following a dramatic 2017-18 season. Battling a right quad injury Leonard only played nine games, didn't allow the Spurs to handle his medical and rehab treatment, and left the team completely in March.

Should the Spurs feel the relationship can be salvaged, they can offer Leonard a supermax contract worth $219 million and "indications are, yes, Leonard and his group want that offer."

It wouldn't be crazy if the Spurs preferred Leonard play next season before putting that offer on the table, but with that avenue comes the risk of losing a top-five player for nothing. There's no guarantee Leonard will requalify for the supermax (he would have to make an All-NBA team or win MVP/Defensive Player of the Year) or still accept it next summer when he can opt out of the final year of his current deal to become an unrestricted free agent.

But if the Popovich-Leonard meeting goes well and the Spurs feel encouraged enough to offer the supermax, that'll be one less star on the board for the Sixers, who right now have a two-year window where they can readily access max cap space (see story). And if they miss on LeBron James and Paul George this summer, then the only stars projected to hit the open market in 2019 would be Kyrie Irving (more likely than not to stay in Boston), Klay Thompson (likely to stay in Golden State) and Jimmy Butler.

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Joel Embiid snubbed for All-NBA, receives Second Team nod

Joel Embiid snubbed for All-NBA, receives Second Team nod

Another day and another silver medal for Joel Embiid.

The Sixers' All-Star center on Thursday was named Second Team All-NBA a day after getting the same distinction on the All-Defensive team.

The Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic took home First Team honors. Jokic had a terrific season and was a huge part in Denver capturing the West’s second seed, but there’s no way he should have been voted ahead of Embiid. 

Unlike the defensive team, Embiid did receive a respectable 40 first-place votes, but by any metric you measure, Embiid had a better season than Jokic.

Embiid averaged more points (27.5 to 20.1), rebounds (13.6 to 10.8) and blocks (1.9 to 0.7) a game. The only other players to achieve Embiid's numbers since blocks became an official stat are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bob McAdoo and Shaquille O'Neal — all Hall of Famers. But beyond that, Embiid impacts the game on both ends. Jokic’s defense is probably a little underrated, but it’s nowhere near the level of Embiid. Embiid affects more shots at the rim than any player in the NBA, including reigning Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. 

There was an argument made that Embiid needs to play in more games to receive higher accolades. That’s absurd. Gobert played in 56 games last season when he captured DPOY. If you’re going by team record, should Jokic’s three more regular-season wins really count for anything?

It’s fair to note how arbitrary these awards are. Dwyane Wade received a vote for the Second Team while rookie Marvin Bagley received a vote for the Third Team for some insane reason. (On a side note, Ben Simmons did receive seven Third Team votes.)

Still, if you’re the Sixers, you hope it just adds fuel to Embiid’s fire. With criticism about his health, his poor performance in the second round, the Game 7 loss and now not earning First Team All-NBA or All-Defense, there’s plenty there.

If Embiid isn’t motivated this offseason, he may never be motivated.

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Sixers mailbag: Suitors for Tobias Harris? Ben Simmons for LeBron James?

Sixers mailbag: Suitors for Tobias Harris? Ben Simmons for LeBron James?

We asked for your questions regarding how the season ended, free agency and the draft.

And you didn’t disappoint, Sixers fans.

So many questions came in that we had to split it up into two mailbags.

Here’s part one, touching on Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons and Kawhi Leonard’s buzzer-beater.

According to Keith Pompey, Harris will have plenty of suitors this offseason. Sixers fans really soured on Harris in a hurry. The emotions from the Toronto series are still raw and that 7-of-23 performance in a pivotal Game 4 is still fresh in everyone’s mind, but cut Harris a little slack.

This was just his second time in the postseason — the other time being when the Pistons were swept in 2015-16 — and he was actually excellent in the final three games of the Brooklyn series. Who outside of Jimmy Butler was consistently good in the second round? Harris had an All-Star caliber season, is just 26 and has improved every season of his career. I’m not saying the Sixers absolutely need to max him, but if they don’t, somebody will.

Speaking of “fixated,” there have been multiple people in my mentions about Walker. I guess because he dropped 60 on the Sixers this season everyone thinks he’s a world-beater. I like Walker a lot. He can go off any given night and would offer a strong complement to Ben Simmons.

But the reality is Walker is 6-foot-3, is not a good defender and is already 29 years old. At the same age, Butler is unequivocally the better option. He may not be a perfect fit on the floor, but he offers much more as a defender and is the kind of leader the Sixers have needed.

Any time you’re talking about the greatest player maybe ever, you have to consider it. The biggest concern for me would be that James doesn’t want to be here. He had his chance and chose L.A. for a reason. His family is happy there and he has aspirations for life after basketball. Also, it would seem like part of the Sixers’ appeal to James would be playing with Simmons.

James will turn 35 this season and is signed for two more years and then has a player option. Simmons will turn 23 this summer and is eligible to sign his rookie max extension which would keep him here for the next six seasons. I get being all-in for a championship, but you have to balance that with the future at least a little bit.

Sixers fans won’t like my answer, but I think the team’s fate is the same even if gets to OT. Joel Embiid had already played 45 minutes at that point and you would need him for every second of that overtime given how poorly they performed with him on the bench. 

Could Butler have worked his magic and gone off in OT? Maybe, but the Raptors seemed to have all the momentum down the stretch.

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