Report: Spurs wanted Simmons or Embiid in exchange for Kawhi
It's been a rough last couple weeks for the Philadelphia 76ers and Sixers fans alike, as we've watched the team fail to capitalize on Brett Brown's draft night goal of needing to be "star-hunting."
The Sixers missed on signing LeBron James when free agency opened up when he signed a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. The night before that, they also missed out on a chance to get Paul George, who re-signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder. And then this morning, after weeks and weeks of speculation, the Sixers are officially out on the hunt for a trade for Kawhi Leonard, who was traded Wednesday to the Toronto Raptors along with Danny Green in exchange for the Spurs getting DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a protected 2019 first-round draft selection.
Talks stalled between the Sixers and Spurs the last few weeks, as a trade package never materialized for the superstar small forward. There were discussions that the Spurs wanted three future first-round selections and two current players, but those players never were revealed.
As Kawhi talk to the Raptors settled down on Wednesday once the trade was finalized and teams announced them on Twitter, ESPN's Zach Lowe broke down the trade and what it means for the Spurs, Raptors, and the remainder of the NBA going forward. Lowe also notes that the Sixers may have had a little bit of a problem with what the Spurs were asking for Leonard.
"Philadelphia's potential package of Robert Covington, Dario Saric, and the Heat's unprotected 2021 pick didn't move the needle. It's unclear if the Spurs had interest in Markelle Fultz; the two sides never discussed him seriously, and the Sixers would not have parted with him, sources say.
The Spurs made it clear any deal with Philly would require Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid (likely Simmons), and the Sixers weren't going anywhere near that, league sources say."
Of course, let's be honest here, there was no scenario in which the Sixers were going to give up either Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid for Kawhi Leonard. Those two players are known to be untouchable. As Lowe reports, it's "unclear" whether the Spurs had any interest in Markelle Fultz, as that was another player the Sixers were unwilling to part ways with.
Lowe also mentions that "talks with Boston and Philly stalled weeks ago. There was no frenzied last call Monday or Tuesday," and that "San Antonio over the past four days lowered its asking price with a few other potential Leonard teams, according to sources around the league, but it was hard to build any realistic deal."
Kawhi to the Raptors is surely a questionable move, especially moving DeRozan to San Antonio with literally no promise whatsoever if the team would be able to retain Leonard once free agency opens in 2019. ESPN's Chris Haynes already reported early Wednesday morning that Kawhi Leonard "has no desire to play in Toronto." This makes it even more of an interesting situation if the desire for Leonard to play in Toronto isn't even there.
But at the end of the day, if the Spurs truly wanted either Embiid or Simmons in exchange for Kawhi Leonard, then the Sixers were right to stay put and continue on the journey they are currently on.
Josh Liddick is a contributor to 97.3 ESPN and Sixers managing editor at SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @JoshLiddickTalk.