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How do Sixers stack up in competition for LeBron James?

How do Sixers stack up in competition for LeBron James?

So the mad news bomber, Adrian Wojnarowski, dropped some napalm Sunday morning. The ESPN NBA insider extraordinaire is reporting that the Sixers will meet with LeBron James' representatives in Los Angeles on Sunday. James apparently will not be on hand.

What does this mean?

So, you’re saying there’s a chance?

First off, they are in the game. This may not be much of a consolation prize if the Sixers don’t reel in the biggest fish in the sea, but you’ve got to be in it to win it. It also speaks to how far the club has come from a 10-win laughingstock to one of less than a handful of teams he would even consider.

Kawhi tie

Marc Stein of The New York Times is reporting part of the Sixers' sales pitch to James is they believe they have a real chance to land Kawhi Leonard in a deal with the Spurs. With Paul George opting not to go home to L.A. and staying put in Oklahoma City, Leonard could be the piece that sways James. Both the Sixers and the Lakers have the assets and cap space to pull off a Leonard deal. The Spurs hold the cards here for now. The Lakers could offer Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and more. The Sixers have reportedly discussed a trade package internally that involves Dario Saric, Robert Covington and Miami's 2021 unprotected first-rounder. Slight advantage: Lakers.

Brett Brown spent 15 years in the Spurs organization working alongside Gregg Popovich and with Leonard for a couple of years. There is a strong relationship there on both fronts. Also, San Antonio may not want to move Leonard in the same conference. Advantage: Sixers.

If you use the George/OKC blueprint, it’s worth the gamble of giving up quality players and picks just to get Leonard (who can opt out of the final year of his contract next summer) in-house to show him what this franchise and city are all about (see story). Playing alongside Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, being coached by Brown and embraced by a city that is obsessed with this basketball team could be intoxicating enough to make Leonard want to stay in Philly long term. James believing Leonard to Philly is a legit possibility with Embiid and Simmons, that’s how a possibly made-up mind changes.    

Home-court advantage

Unfortunately for the Sixers, James' decision may not come down to basketball. It may be as simple as he and his family want to live full-time in Los Angeles. If that’s the case, all bets could be off. Conversely, if it is about hoops, winning titles and furthering his legend, James needs to ask himself, if Leonard isn't dealt to the Lakers then how far is he going in the Western Conference with Ingram, Kuzma, Lonzo Ball and possibly a DeMarcus Cousins? Can they even reach a conference final? The East would be an easier path and Simmons, Embiid, Saric, and Markelle Fultz are a better core. Cleveland shouldn't be written off but considering their personnel and cap situation, this has the feel of a two-horse race with the Lakers and the Sixers.

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Sixers to meet with LeBron James' reps in Los Angeles

Sixers to meet with LeBron James' reps in Los Angeles

The Sixers at least have a foot in the door.

LeBron James' agent, Rich Paul, is meeting with the Sixers in Los Angeles on Sunday, NBC Sports Philadelphia has confirmed. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the news and that James is not expected to attend the meeting.

Per The New York Times' Mark Stein, the Sixers' contingent will include managing partners Josh Harris and David Blitzer.

Dominoes have started falling across the NBA since free agency opened at midnight. However, the biggest one, James, has kept a relatively low profile.

James and Paul spoke with Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman over the phone just as free agency got underway, per ESPN's Dave McMenamin. Other than that, the only other rumblings surrounding the three-time champion and four-time MVP have been that the Denver Nuggets are attempting to make a hard run at him, according to Yahoo! Sports' Chris Mannix.

The one-time betting favorite to land James, the Los Angeles Lakers, also remain in the hunt. They are still seeking another star player to pair James with, which could include trading for San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard or free agent DeMarcus Cousins, who they reportedly have their own meeting with on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Sixers should relatively easily able to reach the required cap space for a max-level player such as James and can still attract another top-tier talent. Their preference would also be a trade for Leonard, who they feel would put them in “pole position” to lock down James.

Couple that with the chance to play with young studs Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons along with James’ close ties to the Rookie of the Year, and the Sixers should be as attractive a destination as any for the king.

Now it just comes down to the meeting. The Sixers know going in that James’ camp doesn’t want any elaborate free-agent pitch, but will their message be enough?

Stay tuned.

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LeBron James reportedly declines player option with Cavaliers, which is good news for Sixers

LeBron James reportedly declines player option with Cavaliers, which is good news for Sixers

After months of anticipation, LeBron James declined his $35.6 million player option with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday, Cleveland.com's Joe Vardon reports. He’ll become a free agent Sunday at midnight.

James had until Friday at 11:59 p.m. to make a decision on his player option. He still could ultimately re-sign with the Cavaliers in free agency.

From a Sixers perspective, this is a positive development. Because the Sixers and Lakers are the only teams vying for James with easy paths to make room to sign James outright, they're in a much better position with teams such as the Rockets and Celtics effectively eliminated from the sweepstakes. 

This time around, James reportedly does not want any big pitches in free agency (see story). However, Kawhi Leonard has reportedly made his own personal pitch for why James should play with him (see story).

The Lakers are the current favorites to land James. The Sixers have the fourth-best odds, at 10/1.

One implication of James opting out is that it likely removes Houston as a possible destination. The Rockets’ most feasible path to acquiring James was through a trade, as the team would have to free up substantial cap space to sign him in free agency. 

Interim GM Brett Brown has said the Sixers are “star hunting,” and there’s obviously no bigger star in basketball than James. After James, Paul George is the highest-profile free agent. 

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