LeBron James Rumors: 76ers 'Doing Everything' to Clear Space for Max Contract

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 23, 2018

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 6: Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers and LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers look on during foul shots at the Wells Fargo Center on April 6, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Ben Simmons;LeBron James
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

In the summer of LeBron James, the Philadelphia 76ers want a seat at the table.

According to Zack Rosenblatt of NJ.com, "the Sixers are doing everything they can to clear enough cap space to sign him outright to a max contract."

Getting to max money for James (around $35 million) will require some clever bookkeeping from the Sixers. According to Spotrac.com, the team currently has $30.5 million in practical cap space, which is the money they'll have free once they renounce the rights to free agents J.J. Redick, Amir Johnson, Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova. 

Given that rookies Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet will sign for around a combined total of $4.1 million, however, that number will drop to around $26 million.

The most feasible way for the Sixers to clear the requisite cap space would be a salary-dump trade of Jerryd Bayless, who is due to make $8.5 million next year. But if the Sixers can't move off his money via a trade, they could use the stretch provision—which allows teams to waive a player and stretch his salary over twice the remaining years of his contract plus one additional season—to pay Bayless over three years, rather than one.

That would cut his 2018-19 salary to $2.8 million, saving the team $5.7 million. The team could also cut ties with Richaun Holmes and his non-guaranteed $1.6 million. Trading Justin Anderson and his $2.5 million is also a possibility, and he likely would receive more interest around the league than Bayless. 

If the Sixers are able to trade Bayless and cut Holmes, they should get the requisite money needed to sign James to his max deal. Otherwise, using the stretch provision on Bayless and parting with Holmes and Anderson would clear $9.8 million, which should also do the trick. 

So, the Sixers are either going to have to get creative, or hope that James will be willing to settle for less than a max deal.


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