Around the East: Some Potential Moves That Could Benefit the 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers were one lucky bounce away from taking the eventual NBA Champions to overtime during an emotional game seven matchup. In hindsight, the Sixers could've realistically made a run to the 2018-2019 NBA Finals had they come away with that win. Unfortunately, the entire outcome for the Sixers remains as one big "what if."
Now, they are moving on. The focus is on the 2019 NBA Offseason. Knowing how close they were to getting to the Eastern Conference Finals has the Sixers and the city of Philadelphia ready to "run it back." But plenty of factors need to go in favor of the Sixers during this offseason in order for their master plan to come together.
In what is shaping up to be one of the most intriguing offseasons in recent history, the Sixers need to come away with a few things going their way. First, it starts with retaining their stars. The best case scenario would be getting both, Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris back in the mix. Then perhaps they convince their old friend JJ Redick to take less money so they can get their sharpshooter back in the starting lineup
So far, it doesn't sound like the picture perfect plan is going accordingly, though. While rumors indicate that Jimmy Butler will most likely be back in Philly on a max contract, there's a strong possibility that the Sixers could agree to a deal, sending him to the Houston Rockets.
As for Harris, the Sixers are confident they can get him back, but recent reports indicate that their offering was less than the max. Considering that Harris has some interest elsewhere, those teams could land him with a max contract, which is what the Sixers are apparently unwilling to offer as of right now.
If the Sixers can't get Harris and Butler back or even both, would they be doomed within the Eastern Conference? Not quite. The Sixers aren't the only team going through some changes right regarding their stars. As always, the NBA is changing all over the place. Teams are making trades, and players are on the move.
And by the sounds of it, it sure seems like the Eastern Conference could be looking at another shake-up. Last year, the biggest threat to the conference, LeBron James picked up and moved out West, leaving the East wide open for the taken. And after this year's offseason, we could see another major change, which leaves the door wide open for another team to take over. So with that being said, let's take a look at some potentially big moves regarding the Eastern Conference.
Kawhi Leonard on the move?
LeBron was the king of the East for years until he signed with the Lakers last offseason. Then came Kawhi Leonard, who took the Toronto Raptors to the next level. Leonard was able to get Toronto over the hump and won them a championship, but he wouldn't guarantee them a long-term commitment.
While Leonard will keep the Raptors in the mix as he enters free agency, he's far from a lock to stay. As expected, Leonard intends on meeting with both teams out in Los Angeles. Last season, Leonard had a mutual interest with the Clippers, but the San Antonio Spurs had sent him to the Raptors for DeMar DeRozan.
And as for the Lakers, well, they pretty much get a shot from everybody. They now have enough money for a max slot, but it's unclear if Leonard wants to take the super team route or not. Regardless of what happens though, it sounds realistic that Leonard could be out West soon, leaving the East wide open once again.
Kyrie Irving to the Nets is picking up steam, but far from a lock
At this point, it's become evident that Kyrie Irving is finished with his time in Boston. For the entire 2019 season, Irving was growing more and more disgruntled as the year went on. And as soon as he could, Irving opted out of his contract with the Celtics, giving him freedom for the upcoming free agency period.
Unlike Leonard though, it sounds like Kyrie Irving is going to aim to stay in the East. However, that's not a guarantee. Plenty of rumors point towards Irving joining the Nets in Brooklyn, but don't rule out the Los Angeles Lakers here too. As we know, LeBron and Kyrie are friends again and could look to link up once again out West.
Klay Thompson likely to stay where he is
One of the biggest free agents to hit the market this offseason happens to be Golden State Warriors guard, Klay Thompson. For the first time in his career, there was a chance that the NBA world could see Thompson donning another uniform, but a majority of the league believes that Thompson stays put where he's at.
Unfortunately, Klay Thompson suffered a major injury during the Warriors final matchup in the NBA Finals. He was diagnosed with a torn ACL and is expected to miss all of next season. While a team like the New York Knicks could still approach Thompson in hopes of having him for the 2020-2021 season, it is believed that unlike Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson is going to stick around in Golden State.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for South Jersey's 97.3 ESPN. You can follow Justin on Twitter: @JGrasso_