Report: Sixers ‘never made serious traction’ with Spurs for Leonard

By Brandon Apter, Sports Talk Philly Staff 

It didn’t take long for big news to break on day one of free agency on Sunday. LeBron James wasted no time in deciding where he’d be playing next, signing a four-year deal worth $154 million with the Los Angeles Lakers. At this point, it seems like Kawhi Leonard will end up alongside James whether it be this summer via trade or next year in free agency.

Before all of this went down though, the Philadelphia 76ers met with LeBron’s agent, Rich Paulin hopes of persuading The King to join the young core of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. One of the Sixers’ big talking points was that they believed they had what it took to acquire Kawhi Leonard and pair him with James in the City of Brotherly Love, but according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA today, Philadelphia never made serious inroads on a deal for Leonard on Sunday.

James’ agent, Rich Paul, met with Philadelphia – another storied franchise – which worked hard Sunday to reach a deal with San Antonio to acquire Leonard and then convince James to join, a person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports. But the Sixers never made serious traction with the Spurs.

It doesn’t really matter at this point, but the Sixers were one of four teams that James was considering in free agency, per Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated. The Rockets, Lakers and Cavs were the other three organizations that LeBron and on Saturday, it was just the Lakers, Cavs and Sixers in the mix. After meeting with Magic Johnson on Saturday night, James decided L.A. was the best decision for him and his family moving forward.

With regard to Kawhi Leonard, offers coming from outside the Lakers now should be a lot more tame now that most everyone knows that he prefers to don purple and yellow. Last week, the Sixers were internally discussing a trade centered around Robert Covington, Dario Saric and the Miami 2021 unprotected pick they received on draft night for Kawhi. Over the weekend though, it was reported that San Antonio was requesting two players and not one, but three future draft choices from Philadelphia for Leonard. Now that LeBron is in L.A. and Kawhi would likely serve as just a rental, any trade package for him couldn’t include that much. 

As free agency progresses, the Sixers need to zero in on some targets to fill depth needs after the team lost veterans Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli to the Bucks and Spurs, respectively. For some thoughts on who they could go after and reaction to LeBron signing with the Lakers, check out the latest Pick Swap Podcast below! 

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