Philadelphia 76ers Report: Philly is no superstar free agent’s first choice

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

After a month of heavy speculation and ‘star hunting’, it appears that the Philadelphia 76ers are no superstar free agent’s first choice.

Everything is finite.

A basketball regular season can never have more than 82 games, the NBA draft can never have more than 60 picks, and for better or worse, all of our speculation and hope for the Philadelphia 76ers landing a superstar free agent will end on Sunday.

But what if none of the marquee free agent names decide to take their talents the City of Brotherly Love?

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What if Brett Brown‘s decision to trade Mikal Bridges to the Phoenix Suns to acquire an unprotected 2021 first round pick is ultimately for not, and Kawhi Leonard finds himself a member of the Celtics or Lakers come July?

Though this may be a scenario that few Sixers fans want to think about, it’s one that could very well come to fruition.

According to Rachel Nichols on the recent episode of ESPN’s The Jump, none of this year’s top free agents, Chris Paul, LeBron James, Paul George, or DeMarcus Cousins currently view Philadelphia as their top free agent market, making the possibility that the team could close out the first day of free agency without any major star acquisition.

While some will be quick to point out that this could never happen, as the Spurs may not choose to trade Leonard out to LA, and James is unlikely to sign with the Lakers as their roster is presently constructed, but honestly, would it really be that bad if the team didn’t add a superstar?

Now don’t get me wrong, adding a top-15 talent to any roster is never going to make them worse (unless that talent is Dwight Howard), but right now, Philadelphia has a pair of assets that very few other teams in the league do: two young superstars and a bunch of cap space.

That in and of itself is an asset.

But this asset too is finite, as Ben Simmons will eventually need to be signed to his own supermax contract probably after the 2021 season. Though it would be nice to acquire a player like George this year on a four-year max deal, is it really worth doing so if they could potentially sour the team’s relationship with are perennial superstar point guard in the making? That certainly didn’t work out well for the Oklahoma City Thunder with James Harden.

The same goes for James. At the tender age of 33, would it really be wise to be paying him over $30 million a year at the age of 36? Spending big money on an aging free agent can also go really, really bad (see Luol Deng).

Though both players would instantly make the team an unquestioned Eastern Conference favorite, is that really worth jeopardizing their future?

Even if Philly strikes out on acquiring one of the big three potentially available superstars, with as much as $30 million in cap space available to play with, they still could seriously upgrade their roster with some immensely valuable short-term pieces moving forward.

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Whether that be resigning J.J. Redick, bolstering their second unit with major upgrades like Will Barton or Wayne Ellington, or investing a roster spot or two in low-risk, high-reward players like Mario Hezonja or ex-Sixers center Nerlens Noel, it’s hard to imagine Philly not closing out the weekend a better team than they are today.

And with a quartet of young, hungry players set to turn the rotation next year, including a finally healthy Markelle Fultz, the 76ers should be a better team even if they only land some veteran role players on one-year deals, and could set themselves up for a huge 2019 free agency.

Highlighted by some of the best two-way players in the league like Klay Thompson and Kawhi Leonard, 2019 could be the best free agency period in recent history and provide Philadelphia with the star they’re desperately searching for if 2018 doesn’t work out.

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As the owners of one of the most talented young rosters in the league, the Sixers are going to keep getting better as their young squad continues to acclimate themselves into the NBA but they can’t jump the shark and cash in their immense cap space on a marquee free agent acquisition if it doesn’t make the team better both now, and moving forward. Simply put, no matter how the weekend shapes up, everything will be fine for the Philadelphia 76ers as long as they don’t commit longterm money to a short-term asset.