The Philadelphia 76ers finally came together after being told for years to "Trust the process." They finished third in the Eastern Conference with 52 wins, but were dispatched by the Boston Celtics in the second round of the playoffs.
But 2017-18 was only the beginning for a 76ers team that is loaded with budding superstars. They are led by center Joel Embiid, and complemented by Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz and Dario Saric.
Though the 76ers already have the makings of a championship team, the expectation is that they'll add at least one more superstar this offseason. They have been mentioned as a possible landing spot for LeBron James, but ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported that the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers are the only teams The King is considering this offseason.
If that's the case, then the 76ers need to turn their focus towards disgruntled San Antonio Spurs star, Kawhi Leonard. The 2014 NBA Finals MVP and champion reportedly requested a trade last week. Leonard only played nine games as he nursed a quad injury throughout 2017-18, and that led to plenty of tension between Leonard, his teammates and head coach Gregg Popovich.
So why not the 76ers, Mr. Leonard? You're the best defensive player in the NBA, and you'd be forming a new super team with Embiid and Simmons. What's not to love? And isn't it easier to stay away from the Western Conference, which is home to the powerhouse Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets and up-and-coming squads like the Utah Jazz, Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans?
And here's the thing: The 76ers are in prime territory to offer the 76ers the best possible package. Dan Favale of Bleacher Report proposed Fultz, Saric, Jerryd Bayless and the No. 10 pick in the 2018 draft (Philly used it on Mikal Bridges), but they can still offer future selections, or even Bridges.
That sounds like the type of package deal it would take to land Leonard. The Spurs get two young players who can both morph into superstars. San Antonio also gets draft picks as they prepare to move on from Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili - who are certainly nearing the end of their respective careers.
In getting Leonard, the 76ers would probably trounce the Celtics as the team to beat in the Eastern Conference. Even if LeBron opts to stay with the Cavaliers, it's hard to envision a team that's lacking in cap space to build up a stronger super team.
Embiid is the next big center in the NBA. Simmons averaged 15.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game in his rookie season, and he's still got a lot of improvement ahead of him. These two alone will make the 76ers a championship contender for the next 10 years. Throw in Leonard, and the Golden State Warriors are shaking in their boots.
Oh, and three-point sniper J.J. Redick is no slouch himself. He's the perfect role player for the 76ers. While Leonard sets the pick and roll, Simmons can find Redick and have him hit the shots from downtown. It's the perfect offensive setup.
Leonard already has his championship with the Spurs, but he can go down as one of the all-time greats if he can capture more rings elsewhere. Well, we know the Warriors aren't making room for him. If Leonard wants to keep winning, the 76ers are easily the best option.
There is plenty that must happen over the next couple of weeks before the Spurs trade Leonard. Thus far, it doesn't sound like any team has come close to offering the right package - nor does San Antonio seem keen on moving on from him just yet.
The 76ers could also opt to chase LeBron James before they prioritize a possible Leonard trade. That's fair. But if and probably when James chooses the Lakers or Cavaliers, it's the 76ers need to make arguably the biggest trade in franchise history.
Get Leonard from the Spurs and watch the City of Brotherly Love raise some championship banners at the Wells Fargo Center. Sounds like a good deal to me.
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