The Philadelphia 76ers may put together a trade package for disgruntled San Antonio Spurs superstar Kawhi Leonard, but it reportedly won't include Markelle Fultz, Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (h/t SportsCenter).
Per that report, the Sixers have "engaged in talks" with the Spurs regarding Leonard. Multiple reports have suggested the Sixers remain interested in landing the two-way star:
That has led to questions about how much a team like Philadelphia or the Boston Celtics might be willing to give up to land his services.
Do you sacrifice major assets for a player who may only be a one-year rental, hoping that you can convince him to remain with the team into the future like the Oklahoma City Thunder did with Paul George? Or do you play it safe and keep your assets in hand?
Philadelphia might be inclined to do the former, with Ian Begley of ESPN.com reporting that "there are several people with Philadelphia who feel confident that Leonard would strongly consider re-signing there next summer if they traded for him."
The other hedge the Sixers have in that bet is that, even if they were to lose Leonard in free agency next summer, they'd still have cap space and a fantastic young duo of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid to build around:
Hardwood Paroxysm @HPbasketball
Here’s a thing with the Sixers. They can - trade for Kawhi on a one year rental -sign LeBron to a one and one - lose both of them next summer - still have Simmons, Embiid, and cap flexibility. It takes juevos to give up Saric and assets and risk having nothing for it but
The Spurs may yet be able to create a bidding war for Leonard, however, with the Lakers expected to pursue him and Haynes reporting Saturday night that the Clippers "haven't abandoned pursuit" of acquiring Leonard, who remains a "high offseason priority" for the team.
Surely, the Spurs won't give up Leonard—a perennial MVP candidate and the most dominant perimeter defender in the NBA—for cheap. The Sixers almost assuredly won't part with Simmons or Embiid, but it will be interesting to see if they could keep Fultz out of a trade.
Could the Sixers build an appealing enough package around Dario Saric, Robert Covington and Miami's 2021 unprotected pick? If that wasn't enough, would the addition of another future pick or a rookie like Zhaire Smith do the trick?
Or would the Spurs insist on a player like Fultz? While the former No. 1 overall pick had a bizarre rookie season, missing most of the year with a shoulder injury and a case of the shooting yips, he still possesses immense potential and could emerge as a dynamic scorer in the NBA if he recovers his shooting form.
Ideally, Philadelphia would want to keep Fultz, as the pick-and-roll craftiness, three-level scoring and playmaking he displayed in college made him the perfect fit alongside Simmons and Embiid. But if keeping him means missing out on Leonard—and perhaps LeBron James as well—the Sixers may relent on their stance that.