Could Kawhi Leonard be reconsidering his Lakers preference? Does that benefit the Philadelphia 76ers?
There has been plenty of debate over whether or not the Philadelphia 76ers should trade for Kawhi Leonard. Some want to bet on the upside of a top-five player, while others point to the reports that he prefers L.A. What if he bolts next summer?
A recent report from Yahoo’s Shams Charania, however, seems to go against the notion that Leonard is focused on joining the Lakers. With LeBron James now donning the purple and gold, Leonard might be hesitant to join a perceived superteam.
"“One thing that’s been made abundantly clear. I’m going to stress this: There’s no guarantee if Kawhi Leonard hits the market next summer he’s going to sign with the Lakers, period. I think his options have broadened a little bit. There’s another team obviously in L.A. I think he’d be very much open to the Clippers…”“There’s a belief around the league that if the Sixers came hard, there could be potential there for him to potentially be there in the long-term…”More from RumorsGrade the Trade: 76ers swap Tobias Harris for superstar PG in mock deal76ers: Grading 4 Knicks trade packages for Joel Embiid from trash to cashGrade the Trade: 76ers snag MVP candidate in this blockbuster proposalGrade the Trade: 76ers land new franchise centerpiece in wild proposalNBA analyst expects the 76ers to go after LeBron James in 2024“There’s not much interest in the Boston Celtics scenario for him…”“Around Kawhi, it’s been made abundantly clear there’s not an interest to go join a superteam. I don’t think he’s jumping for joy that LeBron James is in L.A. with the Lakers.” — Shams Charania on The Herd w/ Colin Cowherd"
There’s a lot to digest there, but the overarching takeaway is simple: Kawhi doesn’t necessarily want to join a ready-made juggernaut. Whether that be the Lakers (LeBron) or the Celtics (Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, Terry Rozier, etc.), Leonard might want to avoid the label that comes with joining a ready-made contender.
With that said, it’s interesting that the Sixers are mentioned as a potential destination — and they might make the most sense, both on and off the court.
The Sixers already have two budding stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, but they don’t quite have the same status as L.A. and Boston. Leonard would move to the East, have a clear path to competing, and still be in a big market his camp is comfortable with.
Comfort level is another big factor in any move, and Leonard would find his transition to the Sixers to be an easy one. He already knows Brett Brown from when he was an assistant under Gregg Popovich, while Monty Williams was recently part of the Spurs’ front office.
That familiarity, combined with the on-court fit between Leonard, Embiid, Simmons and Brown’s offensive system, would make the former Finals MVP hard-pressed to leave next summer.
I’ve long argued that Leonard, on the basis of talent alone, is worth trading for. Putting him in the Sixers’ locker room, where the culture is strong and the personalities blend well, would only help their efforts to retain him. You can’t pass on the opportunity to, for a semi-reasonable price, add one of the five best basketball players on planet Earth.
Health is obviously another key issue, but Leonard should still be firmly on the Sixers’ radar. The idea that he might already be open to re-signing only reaffirms that.