Executives around NBA expect Sixers to pursue LeBron James
The Philadelphia 76ers may have lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night, but there's still plenty of chatter around that game. Whether it's LeBron James declaring Carson Wentz to be his favorite player or him complimenting Brett Brown's system or how the young Sixers team has turned a corner, the Cavs superstar has intrigued Sixers fans for quite some time now. James is heading towards free agency in the summer of 2018 and while many believe Los Angeles will be where "The King" ends up eventually, don't leave Philadelphia out of the picture either. Let's make one thing clear first though before we proceed. LeBron has said that he likes it in Cleveland and has spoken about ending his career there on numerous occasions. That being said, he hasn't made any sort of commitment to the Cavs beyond this year, leading many to believe he's headed elsewhere.
The Sixers have a large amount cap space heading into next season, despite signing Joel Embiid and Robert Covington to extensions. Philadelphia has $67.4 million in committed salaries for next season, so they'll have about $25 million to work with it seems. Bryan Colangelo would need to free up some space if he would want to sign James to a max contract, which would be around $34 million. While most of this is speculation at this point and no front office executives from the Sixers have led anyone to believe they have plans to pursue LeBron quite yet, according to USA Today, NBA executives around the league expect the Sixers to be players for the four-time MVP come summertime.
If James, who can become a free agent after this season, decides to leave the Cavaliers, he could – and should – consider the 76ers, and executives around the league believe Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo will attempt to sign James.
There seems to be somewhat of a split among Sixers fans when it comes to #LeBronToPhilly. Some believe that the process was about building home-grown superstars through the draft to compete for a championship. Others believe that part of the process was to free up a lot of cap in order to become players in free agency. Whatever you may believe, adding the best player in the NBA to a talented young core in Philadelphia would not be a hindrance. If anything, it would put them on the fast track to the NBA Finals. Pairing James with Embiid and Simmons would make for a lethal combination, difficult for any team to beat on a consistent basis.
At the age of 32, LeBron James is showing no signs of slowing down, averaging 28.2 points, 8.3 assists and 8.2 rebounds per game, shooting 58 percent from the floor and 42 percent from beyond the arc. If James believes the Cavs may not have a good chance of making a title run after this year, the Sixers should be a team he considers. The Lakers have been a destination talked about for LeBron for a while now, but they are not nearly as far along in their rebuild and right now Lonzo Ball looks like a scared NBA player. Philadelphia has the young talent in guys like Embiid, Simmons, Robert Covington, Markelle Fultz and Dario Saric, a formidable core for someone like James to be intrigued by in free agency. Ben Simmons has talked about how he views LeBron like a brother, someone he can reach out to about anything really and James was humbled by that prior to his game in Philadelphia on Monday.
“Im honored that a young gifted kid like himself would even allow me to be part of his life and allow me to mentor him and be a big brother to him," James said. "I will continue to do that as long as he would like me to."
Now in his 15th season, LeBron James has career averages of 27.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game. He's shot 50.3 percent from the floor thus far in his illustrious career. James is a three-time NBA champion, has won the NBA Most Valuable Player award four times, Finals MVP three times and has appeared in 13 All-Star games.
Brandon Apter is a contributor to 97.3 ESPN and managing editor at SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @bapter23.