Free Agency 2018: Kawhi Leonard or Paul George A Better Fit For 76ers?
After a spectacular season, the 76ers are still looking for a viable option to complement their stars. 52-30 is a wildly successful record for a team that has found itself out of the playoffs for more than 5 years. Although this success brought the team within a few games of the Eastern Conference Finals, it will not be enough going forward. LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers still remain dominant, and the Boston Celtics defeated the Philadelphia 76ers without their two best players. This spells trouble for the young Sixers squad and their lack of shooting depth.
One of the top priorities for this offseason is a reliable shooter. Somebody who can score the ball and make shots from deep with consistency. The Sixers need a third player to take the scoring load off of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Luckily leadership is not something missing from their locker room, making Kawhi Leonard or Paul George a realistic acquisition for the 2018 offseason.
LEADERSHIP IS NOT A VIABLE OPTION FOR PHILADELPHIA FREE AGENCY
One thing Philly doesn’t have to worry about is leadership. From role players to Simmons and Embiid, the Sixers have a plethora of leaders on the team. Simmons was a standout in the locker room all year, despite being benched with an injury the season before. Markelle Fultz played an underwhelming amount of basketball this year after suffering a shoulder injury. However, his potential makes him another future leader for the team. Embiid has flourished despite his injury-prone status for the first few years in the league. Philadelphia is one of the youngest teams in the league and one of the only teams with reliable leaders. This offseason poses an interesting problem for the 76ers, although they will not find much leadership in Leonard or George. Luckily, leadership is the only characteristic Philadelphia isn’t searching for this offseason.
The Sixers took to Twitter to celebrate the season:
Not how we wanted it to end… but it just means there’s more to do.
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) May 14, 2018
Hoop Central Tweeted that the Sixers were interested in George and Kawhii despite signaling they want King James first and foremost:
The Sixers are still fully committed to signing LeBron James this off-season, but will also pursue Paul George and Kawhi Leonard
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) May 13, 2018
WHO WOULD BE THE EASIEST FIT WITH THE SIXERS OFFENSE?
The Sixers cannot rely on the potential landing of a single player to complete their offseason dreams. Pursuing Leonard or George as well as James is the best way for the team to secure a viable option. The only question lies with the players themselves. George was a budding star just years after entering the league. Since his last season in Indiana, he has proved how little of a leader he is.
After a loss to the Cavaliers in 2017, he reportedly told the press the ball needed to be in his hands at the end of the game. He then followed up by saying he trusted his teammates no matter what. Even worse, Leonard missed the majority of this season with a quad injury. The most mysterious thing about the 26-year-old is his refusal to play despite being cleared by team doctors. Because of this, the conflict with the team has been at an all-time high.
IS THERE ANY UPSIDE TO LEONARD OR GEORGE?
Leonard and George have created drama all season, despite being stars the previous year. George had a very productive season compared to Leonard. Averaging 21.9 points per game, and 40.1 percent from deep, he provided a much needed offensive spark. The 76ers desperately need a consistent scoring threat and George stepped into that role all season for the Thunder. Comparatively, Leonard was a viable option in the league before his injury.
Not only did he replace a HOF player in Tim Duncan, he won a finals MVP against a James led team. This should entice Philadelphia to commit to a huge contract for Leonard after his own expires in 2019. The city of Brotherly Love truly seems like an ideal landing spot for Leonard or George, considering the cap space the team has cleared up through acquiring talent in the NBA draft.
Featured Image: Keith Allison via Flickr