Philadelphia Sixers are at least two seasons ahead of schedule in its infamous rebuilding project.

Teams just don’t jump from winning 10 games to compete in the Eastern Conference semifinals a season after winning 28 games in 2017-2018.

The ongoing playoffs have been surprising and Boston Celtics just made it more interesting with a dominant win in the conference finals Game One over Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks alongside Philadelphia form the next big things in the NBA and their presence in the same conference presents a major headache to Sixers.

Boston has little to worry about since Brad Stevens men have done a great job through the season without Gordon Hayward playing the entire regular season and Kyrie Irving through the playoffs. Milwaukee on the other hand, is a coach and shot creator away from making it beyond the first round of the playoffs.

Philadelphia has issues with its roster despite the sharp improvement this season; the team needs an elite stopper and Point Guard. Robert Covington’s struggles in the playoffs before Philly’s exit at the hands of Boston needs addressing and until Ben Simmons grows a bit more, the team’s chances of lifting the NBA title can’t be placed on him at the Point position.

While a third of league teams has ample cap space to sign top free agents this offseason, few beside Philadelphia are contenders. Thanks to its rebuild and additions of JJ Redick and Amir Johnson on one year deals, Sixers have money to spend and are ready to compete for the title next season unlike Los Angeles Lakers for instance. Down to varying situations, three players head the market this time around; LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. James sure does solve Point Guard issues but does not defend anymore which takes him out of contention.

Kawhi and George are the best options for Sixers to sign because they are elite wing defenders who create offense. Both players are from the Los Angeles area and have been seriously linked with the Lakers-a point which needs to be considered when making moves for either player. Unless he picks up the $20 million option on his contract to play for Oklahoma City Thunder for one more year, George is an unrestricted free agent from July 1. Leonard’s situation is a bit tricky since he has one more year on his deal before he can choose to exercise or decline his player option.

Before that, the only way to get Kawhi is via trade with San Antonio Spurs that is reportedly willing to let him go after a standoff between the organization and the player’s representatives. Kawhi’s injury is at the heart of the issue and has been since he opted to sit out the season despite being cleared by Spurs medical staff. Compared to George’s straight forward path to rejoining the Eastern Conference ranks, Leonard’s situation is far different.

That aside, should Sixers go in for Kawhi, the team will have to strike what will surely be a complicated trade package with Spurs. Philadelphia will have to do away with a sizable number of its young players to make the deal happen. Dario Saric, Markelle Fultz and Sixers first round pick in this year’s NBA Draft and another first round pick in a latter year could be enough to get Leonard from Spurs. Parting with two players on rookie scale contracts and future picks strips away Philadelphia’s flexibility in the future when Kawhi becomes a free agent, a new contract needs to be worked out for Simmons and Joel Embiid’s deal heads into the second year.


With George, Philly gets to keep all its assets and the benefits that come with it. After Oklahoma City’s season ended quite early in the playoffs first round, George has undergone a knee surgery that will sideline him for up to two months. Leonard is still recovering from the quadriceps injury that made him play just nine games this season. Throwing in the mystery surrounding his injury, signing Leonard looks quite risky considering he missed games in 2015-2016 due to a hand injury. George looks better four seasons after breaking his leg in Team USA Camp for the World Championship and is yet to suffer a major injury since.

After starring in the East for several seasons making familiarity less of a problem, Paul George is the clear option for Sixers to sign.

By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter


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