As the 2018 NBA Conference Finals are set to begin between the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors and the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers, the other 26 teams are currently planning how they can play in mid-May as early as the 2018-19 NBA season.
Following years of rebuilding and just wanting to make this year’s playoffs, the Philadelphia 76ers have extremely high expectations after finishing with the third-best record (52-30) in the Eastern Conference.
With a path to creating enough cap salary space to sign one max-contract player, Philadelphia is interested in LeBron James and Paul George in free agency according to Keith Pompey of Philly.com:
The Sixers can’t publicly say so until July 1, but it doesn’t take an engineering degree to realize the team is prepared to do whatever it takes to sign James, a four-time league MVP. Oklahoma City small forward Paul George is another free agent the Sixers have interest in, according to folks around the league. He would be a great fit because of his ability to shoot the ball and defend.
In addition to James and George, the 76ers are also interested in a potential Kawhi Leonard trade, who has a prior relationship with head coach Brett Brown during their time together with the San Antonio Spurs:
Don’t be surprised if they also try to acquire San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard in a trade. Sources have said the Sixers have expressed interest in the two-time all-star. While he is eligible for a five-year, $219-million “super-max” extension with the Spurs this summer, there are reports that Leonard wants out after staying away from the team for most of the season with a quad injury. He played in only nine games.
If the Sixers ultimately land one of these All-Star forwards, Philadelphia and Boston will likely be considered the favorites in the Eastern Conference next season. Led by Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, the 76ers have perhaps the best young core in the league but will need to continue to gain experience.
As for the Los Angeles Lakers, they have also been linked with James, George, and Leonard. With a competitive young core and enough cap space to sign two max contract players, the Lakers are a legitimate destination once again and it will be interesting to see how it shakes out this offseason.