The Philadelphia 76ers' long-term process is finally bearing fruit in a big way, and the franchise may attempt to capitalize on that success by pursuing the biggest star set to hit free agency next summer.
USA Today's Jeff Zillgitt reported Wednesday some NBA executives believe Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo will make an effort to sign LeBron James. James can opt out of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers after the 2017-18 season.
Showing interest in James is multiple steps away from signing the 13-time All-Star, and the Sixers will be among a number of teams making a push for his signature.
The idea of James' landing in Philadelphia isn't that far-fetched, though.
The Sixers could easily accommodate a max contract for James. According to Spotrac, Philadelphia is a little over $21.6 million in the red next year, but the team has roughly $52.2 million in salary holds for JJ Redick, Amir Johnson and Nik Stauskas. By letting the three sign elsewhere or agreeing to lesser salaries with the players, the Sixers could easily free up some cap space.
Philadelphia's young core of stars is the biggest factor working in its favor. Although the Sixers haven't reached the playoffs since 2011-12, they might be able to sell James on the prospect of playing alongside Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz.
The 2017-18 Sixers are basically the team James was hoping he'd have when he returned to the Cavaliers in 2014, when Cleveland was building around Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters.
James turns 33 in December, though, and he has logged the fourth-most regular-season minutes (42,049) among current players. He may not want to sign with a team that hasn't been battle-tested in the postseason such as the Sixers, despite the obvious progress Philadelphia has made.
The fact the Sixers could make a serious push for James, though, is at least a sign of the front office's desire to become a serious title contender in the near future.