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Paul George will be the third-most sought-after free agent in the NBA this offseason, behind only LeBron James and Kevin Durant, and the Philadelphia 76ers are expected to be among the teams wooing him.
According to Keith Pompey of Philly.com: “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.”
Pompey, citing sources, also reported that the 76ers are interested in trading for Spurs star Kawhi Leonard.
“Don’t be surprised if they also try to acquire San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard in a trade,” Pompey wrote. “Sources have said the Sixers have expressed interest in the two-time all-star.”
Finally, Pompey reported that the Sixers will have interest in signing James.
As for George, he would be a natural fit in Philadelphia.
The team was excellent defensively; George, 28, is a three-time All-Defensive selection (once as a first-team pick, twice as a second-team pick). The Sixers like to fire away from three; George shot 40.1 percent from beyond the arc this season. And Philly likes to blitzkrieg teams in transition; it’s easy to envision George sprinting toward either corner for an open look, or Ben Simmons finding him as a trailer on the break.
Additionally, the Sixers didn’t have a shot-maker who could consistently create his own offense on all three levels this season. Joel Embiid came the closest, but his handle remains clumsy and he’s turnover-prone, hardly surprising for a young center often asked to shoulder a huge load in the team’s half-court offense. While a healthy Markelle Fultz will help if his jumper returns to form next season, George would give the team another player capable of breaking down defenders and creating open looks for himself.
And unlike a player like James, George isn’t ball-dominant. There are questions about how someone like LeBron might fit with Simmons, as both are at their best facilitating and running an offense.
Obviously, were James to sign in Philadelphia, he and Simmons would find a way to make it work on the court. You don’t pass on transcendent superstars like James because the fit isn’t seamless. But George would be one heck of a consolation prize.
Of course, George and James may also seek to pair together in Cleveland, or for a team like the Los Angeles Lakers. And George could choose to simply stay put in Oklahoma City. But unless George has already made his plans for next season, the Sixers should be in the mix.
Philly widely exceeded expectations by winning 52 games, grabbing the No. 3 seed and reaching the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs this past year. With a player of George’s caliber added to the mix, the Sixers would instantly have to be considered another top contender in the East and perhaps in the NBA, period.
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