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Report: Spurs wouldn’t trade Kawhi Leonard to 76ers unless they included Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid

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The 76ers reportedly refused to include Markelle Fultz in trade offers for Kawhi Leonard, which seems misguided to me. Leonard carries major questions about his future, but after his rookie year, so does Fultz! At least Leonard has proven he can reach an elite level. That’s not to say Philadelphia should have definitely dealt Fultz for Leonard. The 76ers definitely have a better understanding of Fultz’s behind-the-scenes progress, and they might have more information on Leonard’s health and willingness to stay long-term. I just wouldn’t have made Fultz a deal-breaker in negotiations.

But it seems the Spurs placed a far more unreasonable restriction on Philadelphia, though.

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

The Spurs made it clear any deal with Philly would require Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid (likely Simmons), and the Sixers weren’t going anywhere near that, league sources say.

Given their age and contract status – and, in Simmons’ case, health – Simmons and Embiid are each way more valuable than Leonard. There’s no way the 76ers would have dealt either of those two for Leonard.

Which apparently took a still-viable suitor off the table for San Antonio.

Between Fultz, Dario Saric, Robert Covington, Zhaire Smith, the Heat’s 2021 first-rounder and Philadelphia’s own picks, the 76ers could have assembled a better package than the Raptors sent the Spurs for Leonard. Maybe the 76ers wouldn’t have. But it would have been worth at least exploring.

It seems San Antonio placed too much on remaining competitive, which led to a deal revolving around DeMar DeRozan. There’s nothing wrong with that strategy per se, but it gets more difficult to defend when the Spurs got so little. In this Western Conference, they could slip out of the playoffs, even with DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl. A long-term approach should have at least been considered.

To be fair, I’d also caution against taking this report at face value with no skepticism. Today, 28 teams – especially those, like Philadelphia, linked to Leonard – are trying to explain why they didn’t get the star. This could easily be the 76ers’ spin and not an accurate reflection of the Spurs’ stance.

But Lowe is a great reporter, and I tend to trust this – which raises red flags about San Antonio.

Report: Philadelphia tried to recruit Daryl Morey as new GM, was rebuffed

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The analytics movement is not dead in Philadelphia.

The Sixers are still searching for a new general manager to replace Bryan Colangelo (who had to resign in the wake of a Twitter scandal), and the rumors have always been about the big guns. David Griffin, the former Cleveland GM inexplicably let go by that franchise, is a name that kept coming up.

But the home of “The Process” wanted to jump back into the analytics waters and try to land the Rockets’ Dayrl Morey, the face of the NBA’s analytics movement. That was shot down, reports Marc Stein of the New York Times.

The Sixers are swinging for the fences right now — they met with LeBron James in free agency, they have tried to get in on the Kawhi Leonard trade sweepstakes, they wanted to meet with Paul George — and landing Morey fits in that mold. Philadelphia already has Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid in house, and feels they are on the verge of contention for years, but that they need one more piece. Morey is not that piece, but the guy who traded for James Harden and Chris Paul in Houston could get someone to come to Philly.

Morey is happy in Houston, however, and he’s staying put.

Instead, the Sixers search will continue. In the interim, coach Brett Brown is filling in a dual role (and doing a solid job, but with the recent run of struggles for teams that had a coach filling both positions it’s unlikely they keep this arrangement long term).

Report: Markelle Fultz (76ers), Jaylen Brown (Celtics) among players ‘off limits’ in Kawhi Leonard trade

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Update: Perhaps, Wojnarowski meant Al Horford rather than Terry Rozier as a top-five player. Horford is better, but given age and salary, Terry Rozier might have more trade value. So, it’s ambiguous.

 

The 76ers and Celtics are rising powers, because they’re loaded with good, mostly young, players.

For the same reason, both teams are viable trade partners with the Spurs for Kawhi Leonard.

Philadelphia has Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz. Boston has Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier.

But apparently neither team is willing to deal those players to San Antonio.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Embiid, Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz – they’re off limits. Boston’s really got their top five players off limits. Boston’s more willing to do a deal that’s pick-heavy. But the Spurs want good players back. They don’t want to rebuild. They want picks and guys who can help them stay in the playoffs.

Perhaps, the 76ers can construct a trade around Dario Saric and Robert Covington. Philadelphia also has the Heat’s 2021 first-round pick.

The Celtics are more loaded with draft picks – a Kings or 76ers first-rounder next year, a Grizzlies first-rounder and a Clippers first-rounder. But beyond its top five, Boston’s players aren’t exactly alluring.

Not that the Celtics should include any of those top five. Leonard reportedly isn’t that interested in Boston – a big deal because he can become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Perhaps, Philadelphia should dangle Fultz. Leonard might be more interested in staying there.

But his injury presents a big risk for any team that has him. Even a reliable pledge to re-sign would leave major questions.

Really, this shows how far the Spurs are from trading Leonard. They’re asking for the moon, and other teams refuse to include assets worthy of the superstar. That gap can get bridged quickly, but this is the stalemate typical of early trade talks.

Report: 76ers re-signing J.J. Redick to one-year contract worth $12M-$13M

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The 76ers were holding out hope for LeBron James.

But with LeBron signing with the Lakers, Philadelphia is turning to other business – like re-signing J.J. Redick.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

That’s not nearly as much as the $23 million Redick made last year, but it’s still probably a higher salary than the 34-year-old could have fetched on the open market. Few spending teams have more than the $8,641,000 mid-level exception available.

But the 76ers are paying extra for flexibility. Other teams might have offered Redick more on a multi-year contract. Philadelphia paid a premium next season to keep its book cleaner for 2019.

The 76ers need shooting around Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, and Redick will provide plenty. With Marco Belinelli (Spurs) and Ersan Ilyasova (Bucks) departing, Redick became more of a priority on a team ready to win now.

This contract will allow Philadelphia to aim even higher in the long-term, too.

LeBron James’ people (but not LeBron) to meet with Philadelphia Sunday

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The Philadelphia 76ers have always been a dark horse in the LeBron James sweepstakes (and in a Kawhi Leonard trade, and that’s part of this story). If LeBron wants to win titles and stay in the East, the Sixers with him — combined with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons — would be a ready-made challenger to the existing powers of Boston/ Golden State/Houston. However, the City of Brotherly Love never seemed to be on the top of LeBron’s list.

That said, LeBron’s management team is set to meet with the Sixers on Sunday, a story reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

A high-level Philadelphia 76ers contingent is meeting with LeBron James’ agent, Rich Paul, on Sunday in Los Angeles, league sources told ESPN.

James isn’t expected to attend the meeting, which is the first significant chance for the 76ers to make case a free-agent case to James, league sources said. Ownership and possibly interim president of basketball operations/coach Brett Brown are expected to lead the meeting with James’ representatives, sources said.

The Sixers can offer a max contract, so they meet that basic requirement.

What will be discussed in this meeting? To start with, LeBron’s role with the team and the plans to fill out the roster — a LeBron/Embiid/Simmons core needs a lot of shooting around it and the Sixers did not retain Ersan Ilyasova or Marco Belinelli, plus J.J. Redick is a free agent. How would the Sixers get the shooting and depth needed to maximize those elite talents?

Then there is Kawhi Leonard — the Sixers believe they are seriously in the mix to land him. Whether that is true or San Antonio just want to use Philly for leverage is up for debate, but the Sixers are at least at the table.

After that, there will be a discussion of organizational philosophy, marketing plans for LeBron, and just the two sides getting a sense of what the other really wants.

It’s unlikely that LeBron ends up in Philly, but if nothing else the meeting is a reminder to the Lakers they are not alone in chasing No. 23 — he has options. It puts a little more pressure on L.A. to make the moves LeBron wants.