The Philadelphia 76ers are heading into an interesting offseason that could propel them into a contender in the Eastern Conference next season. After achieving a 52-win season and winning a playoff series, the Sixers need to make a considerable splash either during the NBA draft or in free agency.
In free agency, everybody knows that the Sixers will be in the running for Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James or Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George. Both players will cost a pretty penny to sign, but could do one wonders for the young core of Joel Embiid, Markelle Fultz, Dario Saric, and Ben Simmons.
However, if the Sixers believe that they will have better success in the trade market instead, they do have the ammo with two first-round picks at Nos. 10 and 26 in next month’s draft.
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When you mention potential trades and the Sixers, the first name that comes to mind is San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard.
A few weeks ago, our very own Matt Burke wrote about a potential Leonard-Sixers trade. Burke mentioned that Philadelphia could give up their two first round picks, two potential first-round picks next year, Dario Saric, Robert Covington, or Fultz.
On the surface that seems like a lot to give up on the Sixers’ side as they would be gutting their future for an all-world defender in Leonard. If it would take that much to acquire Leonard, another player the Sixers should ask about is Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum.
This season, McCollum and backcourt mate Damian Lillard were swept by the New Orleans Pelicans in the four games in the first round of the NBA playoffs. It was an utter disappointment by the Blazers, who were the third seed in a very competitive Western Conference.
They once again failed to live up to high expectations, which means Portland GM Neil Olshey could be looking to break up the star-studded backcourt. Kevin O’ Connor of The Ringer wrote back in April that Olshey reportedly rejected trade deals for both Lillard and McCollum, but league executives feel otherwise.
If this is the case, then the Sixers would be the perfect trade for Portland. Philadelphia could use a young shooting guard to pair next to Simmons or Fultz for the next few seasons.
Even though J.J. Redick had a career-year with 17.1 points per game on 42 percent shooting from three-point range. He is getting older, is an unrestricted free agent, and could be better used as a sixth man.
This is where the former Lehigh University standout comes into play.
McCollum had a good season, averaging 21.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.4 assists in 36.1 minutes a game. He also shot 44.3 percent from the field and 39.7 percent from three-point range.
Insert his shot making ability into the Sixers’ starting lineup and maybe they fare better against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
In terms of a trade proposal, Philadelphia could package both their first-round picks, Robert Covington, and Jerryd Bayless to send Portland for McCollum. Portland gets a wing defender in Covington, a veteran guard in Bayless, and two picks to address other glaring needs.
Philadelphia, however, receives an outstanding shooting guard who can get to the basket and will be under contract through the 2020-21 season.
It shall be interesting to see how this offseason shakes out for the Sixers as they are officially on the clock. Boston is only going to get better, so it will be up to the Sixers’ front office to stay competitive for the top spots in the East.