76ers Rumor Roundup: Updates on George, Ingram, LaVine Among Others

76ers Rumor Roundup: Updates on George, Ingram, LaVine Among Others Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George (13) moves the ball against New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) during the second half at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

With both the NBA Draft and the start of free agency fast approaching, the rumor mill is out in full force. The Philadelphia 76ers, possessing upwards of $65 million in salary cap space and a significant amount of draft assets to trade, have been mentioned in a slew of recent reports. The following is a roundup of the recent rumors surrounding the Sixers.

Paul George:

It came as a shock on Thursday evening to hear the Sixers’ interest in pursuing Paul George had “significantly waned in recent days,” according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. The Los Angeles Clippers star forward had reportedly been at the top of the Sixers’ wish list this offseason.

The reason behind the Sixers’ pulling away from pursuing George became clearer on Friday morning. According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, George is looking to opt into his contract with the Clippers and then request a trade. Windhorst said the following on ESPN’s “Get Up,” via Austin Krell on X:

“So, this is sort of setting up to the Clippers basically are positioning themselves to call Paul George’s bluff here. They have not been willing to meet Paul George’s price. He remains un-signed. You can’t just look at teams with salary cap space. If Paul George changes teams, it’s very likely going to be a situation where he opts into his contract and requests a trade. The Clippers have an offer on the table that is believed to be similar to what they gave Kawhi Leonard, which is a three-year deal at just below the max. They believe he doesn’t want to leave LA. They believe he wants to stay in his hometown under those terms. That’s where we’re at. Is Paul George going to actually walk over getting an extra year and more money or does he want to stay where he’s comfortable alongside Kawhi Leonard? That is one of the biggest questions in the NBA as we head toward July 1. The Clippers, they have had a great opportunity here to close this deal with a full offer. They have not made it. We’ll watch how it plays out.”

If the cost of acquiring George is a max contract and draft assets in a trade, then the Sixers’ sudden change of stance makes more sense. However, acquiring George is still a possibility for the Sixers. Kyle Neubeck of PHLY Sports on Friday afternoon reported the following about Philadelphia’s pursuit of the nine-time All-Star:

“On the Sixers’ end, league sources maintain that they are still interested in George, though it would be fair to say he’s not their only option or target in free agency. Philadelphia is spending the pre-draft and free agency period talking with teams about different scenarios, including some which have been reported or speculated about previously.”

The recent reporting about George’s potential free agency leaves much up in the air. While the chances of Philadelphia acquiring George seem less likely than they did a few days ago, the possibility still cannot be counted out.

Zach LaVine:

There has been discussion around the league about a potential Zach LaVine trade going back to at least last season’s trade deadline. The price of trading for LaVine reportedly “dropped significantly” from where it was at a few months ago. K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago reported the Bulls reached out to Philadelphia about a potential LaVine deal:

“League sources reiterated that the Bulls remain active on several trade fronts centered on Zach LaVine, including with the Utah Jazz and Philadelphia 76ers.”

Multiple reporters shot down the idea of the Sixers trading for LaVine. From Neubeck’s report:

“I will reiterate here that the Sixers are not interested in pursuing Zach LaVine, per sources familiar with their thinking, in spite of reports connecting them to the Bulls’ star guard.”

Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports echoed the same sentiment in his reporting:

“LaVine remains merely a backup option for the Sixers, sources said, but not a player whom Philadelphia truly covets with the team’s ocean of cap space.”

The Sixers’ reported non-interest in LaVine does not come as a surprise. LaVine is a talented player, averaging 20.5 points per game for his career. However, his injury history, defensive deficiencies and massive contract are all reasons why the Sixers should not trade for him. The 29-year old has three years and roughly $138 million remaining on his contract. Something will have gone drastically wrong this offseason in Philadelphia if LaVine ends up on the Sixers.

Brandon Ingram:

The Sixers have been tied to Brandon Ingram throughout this offseason. On Thursday, Kelly Iko of The Athletic reported the New Orleans Pelicans “contacted the Sixers concerning a possible Ingram trade.”

Neubeck went into further detail about a potential Ingram-Sixers connection:

“Ingram, for example, is still a player the Sixers have interest in, per league sources. On the list of desired targets, he still probably falls below George because it would cost draft capital to acquire, not to mention the clunkier skill set fit with Embiid and Maxey, but the broader point is that it is not George-or-bust in Philadelphia.”

While George is a better all-around player, Ingram is a great player in his own right. He can score the ball at will, averaging 23.1 points per game over the last five seasons. The Sixers would have to give up draft capital to trade for Ingram in addition to likely signing him to a major contract extension. However, Ingram is still in the prime years of his career. At 26 years old, he could be a mainstay of the Sixers’ core for many years to come.

Another positive about Ingram is his lower cap hit for the 2024-25 season. Ingram is currently under contract for $36.0 million next season. At that price, the Sixers would have roughly $14 million more in available salary cap space to sign another role player this offseason. Philadelphia would have more flexibility to build out the remainder of the roster if they acquired Ingram.

Considering the reporting about Philadelphia pulling away from pursuing George, the idea of the Sixers trading for Ingram is gaining steam.

OG Anunoby:

The rumors are starting to grow about OG Anunoby potentially testing the free agent market. The New York Knicks forward is reportedly unhappy with what New York is offering him in a contract extension.

Michael Scotto of HoopsHype back on June 16 said the following about the Anunoby sweepstakes:

“The league wide expectation is that OG Anunoby will return to the Knicks. The question is, for how much? From executives I’ve talked to around the league, Anunoby’s floor appears to be $35 million, and his ceiling is a max contract. Philadelphia will be looking for a 3-and-D small forward and has the max cap space to make the offer if they believe they’ll miss out on their top target, Paul George. Two general managers told me they’d pay Anunoby $35 million annually and that a max would be tough because of his injury history.”

The Knicks gave up RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley and a 2024 second-round pick in their trade to acquire Anunoby last season. Considering what they gave up, it would be hard to believe New York would let the ex-Toronto Raptors forward walk in free agency.

If Anunoby were to hit the open market, the Sixers would be one of his top suitors. Anunoby is a proven 3-and-D player, averaging 14.8 points and 1.5 steals while shooting 38.3% from 3-point range over the last five seasons. However, he has eclipsed 60 games played in just one season since the 2019-20 campaign. Neubeck confirmed the Sixers would be interested in signing Anunoby if he hit free agency:

“As it relates to Philadelphia, the Sixers were in on Anunoby ahead of the deadline, with the Raptors ultimately choosing an offer from the Knicks as a result of prioritizing young talent (Quickley and Barrett) over picks. If Anunoby is in play and not just trying to generate leverage, league sources expect the Sixers to be in the mix.”

There is a fair chance the Sixers’ interest is being used as a leverage play by Anunoby’s camp. The Knicks have not been willing to offer Anunoby a max contract. However, the threat of losing him in free agency puts more pressure on New York to pony up a max deal. The most likely outcome at this point remains Anunoby re-signing with the Knicks. At the very least, the Sixers’ interest will force New York to give up more money to the 26-year old.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope:

If the Sixers strike out on players like George, Ingram and Anunoby, there are still other options they could go to in free agency. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is one player the Sixers have been connected to. Zach Lowe of ESPN, on the “Get Up” program, said people should keep an eye on the potential of Caldwell-Pope signing with Philadelphia.

Fischer on Friday also reported about the Sixers’ interest in the veteran wing:

“Therefore, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope would seem, at present, to be the veteran in line to benefit from the Magic’s cap space. Caldwell-Pope is also believed to have a potential home in Chicago, should the Bulls ultimately lose out on Williams, in addition to Philadelphia viewing the veteran wing as a backup option.”

Caldwell-Pope averaged 10.1 points while shooting 40.6% from beyond the arc for the Denver Nuggets last season. He is also one of the league’s best perimeter defenders. If he declines his $15.4 million player option with the Nuggets, Caldwell-Pope would be a solid option for the Sixers.

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