Spurs covet Robert Covington, Dario Saric in potential Kawhi deal

Robert Covington, Dario Saric (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Robert Covington, Dario Saric (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia 76ers are gearing up to make a run at Kawhi Leonard.

We’re just three days away from the start of free agency, with LeBron James hitting the open market (potentially) in search of a new home. The Philadelphia 76ers might not be the favorites to land him, but they’re expected to be in the conversation. Trading for Kawhi Leonard could help their case.

The Spurs’ disgruntled star has made it clear that L.A. is his preferred destination, so there is inherent risk in trading for him. With that said, there is no guarantee that he goes elsewhere next offseason either — just look at Paul George, who many expect to stay with OKC.

If the Sixers were to get their hands on Kawhi, he’d be playing in a big market with an opportunity to compete at the highest level. The Sixers won 52 games in their first full  season with a healthy Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Now Markelle Fultz projects to improve and Embiid has the entire summer to work on his game.

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Leonard would take the Sixers to another level, giving them the go-to perimeter scorer they sorely lacked against Boston in the playoffs. He’d also give them another All-NBA defender (and two-time Defensive Player of the Year) to slot next to an elite two-way core.

And according to Sports Illustrated’s Jake Fischer, the Sixers have already begun formulating potential offers. Nothing has been officially sent to San Antonio, but Sixers ownership has reportedly be presented with numerous trade proposals.

The report also notes that the Spurs have “strong interest” in a package involving Robert Covington and Dario Saric, whose salaries would match. The Sixers can also throw in the Miami Heat’s unprotected 2021 first-round pick, which they acquired in the Zhaire Smith trade on draft night.

"“One team source says preliminary discussions with San Antonio revealed the Spurs have strong interest in a package involving burgeoning forwards Dario Saric and Robert Covington as well as a future first-round pick. A potential, more serious offer that Philadelphia is weighing internally includes Saric and Covington and the 2021 Miami Heat unprotected first-round pick the Sixers obtained in their draft-night deal with the Phoenix Suns.” — Jake Fischer, SI.com"

There have been mixed feelings across the Sixers fanbase with regard to who the Sixers should and shouldn’t include in a Kawhi trade. Some feel that Saric would be too much to offer for somebody who can enter free agency in 2019, while others point to the upside of a potential top-five player in the NBA.

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As free agency gets closer and teams like the Lakers begin to make strong pushes for Kawhi, expect the Sixers to stand firm in their desire to add another star-caliber talent. Covington and Saric would be tough to part with, but it might be worth it.