Philadelphia 76ers see Kawhi Leonard trade rumors skyrocket following NBA Draft

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

With the 2018 NBA Draft officially in the books, the rumors of the Philadelphia 76ers possibly preparing for a Kawhi Leonard trade are beginning to heat up.

To say the Philadelphia 76ers made the 2018 NBA Draft exciting for fans would be a huge understatement when looking at all of the surprise moves, with the decision to trade Mikal Bridges to the Phoenix Suns highlighting the night.

For weeks, Bridges was considered the perfect fit on a young team like the Sixers since his championship mindset after winning two titles in three seasons with the Villanova Wildcats seemed like it would work wonders for this team. But unfortunately for Bridges, his dreams of continuing to play local were over in less than a half hour after Philadelphia sent him to Phoenix.

Based off early reactions on social media, plenty of Sixers fans are still upset over the team’s decision to send Bridges packing so quickly, but also they need to realize this never would have been done without some sort of plan in place.

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So with Philadelphia trading Bridges to Phoenix in exchange for the No. 16 pick, which would end up being Zhaire Smith, along with a future first-round pick in 2021, the rumors about the team potentially going after Kawhi Leonard are beginning to heat up once again.

Not too long ago, there were reports about Leonard could potentially be on Philadelphia’s radar, and when seeing how the star’s relationship with the San Antonio Spurs has become rocky in recent weeks, the possibility seems higher than ever.

Whether they want to admit it or not, a fresh start seems to be in best interest for both parties when looking at how things have played out over the last few months, and with the Sixers all of a sudden gaining an extra future first-round pick, this could certainly be used as part of the trade.

After seeing how overmatched they were in the semifinals of the playoffs against the Boston Celtics, it was clear that Philadelphia is in desperate need of adding another star to play alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. When seeing how competitive the Eastern Conference is going to continue being with teams like the Celtics and Toronto Raptors, bringing another big star on board is the only way the Sixers are going to have a fighting chance.

Of course, just because the rumors surrounding Philadelphia’s interest in Leonard are heating up following the draft doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to happen since there are numerous teams expressing interest as well. However, the argument can be made that the Sixers willing to trade Bridges so fast despite him being a great fit is a clear sign this team may have some sort of plan in place.

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Thanks to some of the moves made in Thursday’s draft, Philadelphia put themselves in better position to possibly pull off a trade involving Leonard. The chances of this happening may seem like a long shot at the moment, but when seeing how great the Sixers have been over the years at making big trades, Leonard coming to the City of Brotherly Love doesn’t seem that crazy after all.