The Sixers aren't making any secrets about it: they're going big-game hunting in hopes of adding a third star.
So ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski's report Wednesday that the Sixers, in addition to the Lakers, are interested in Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard doesn't come as a surprise. Wojnarowski noted that the Sixers have both the assets to trade for Leonard and the potential cap space to sign him outright next summer.
But what's most notable about the report is there's still a chance the Sixers won't even have an opportunity to acquire Leonard.
The Spurs turned down an offer for Leonard from the Celtics in February and "remain resistant" to trading their superstar forward, per Wojnarowski. Head coach Gregg Popovich and Leonard are expected to meet "sooner than later" to see if repairs can be made to the relationship between the Spurs and their franchise player following a dramatic 2017-18 season. Battling a right quad injury Leonard only played nine games, didn't allow the Spurs to handle his medical and rehab treatment, and left the team completely in March.
Should the Spurs feel the relationship can be salvaged, they can offer Leonard a supermax contract worth $219 million and "indications are, yes, Leonard and his group want that offer."
It wouldn't be crazy if the Spurs preferred Leonard play next season before putting that offer on the table, but with that avenue comes the risk of losing a top-five player for nothing. There's no guarantee Leonard will requalify for the supermax (he would have to make an All-NBA team or win MVP/Defensive Player of the Year) or still accept it next summer when he can opt out of the final year of his deal to become an unrestricted free agent.
But if the Popovich-Leonard meeting goes well and the Spurs feel encouraged enough to offer the supermax, that'll be one less star on the board for the Sixers, who right now have a two-year window where they can readily access max cap space (see story). And if they miss on LeBron James and Paul George this summer, then the only stars projected to hit the open market in 2019 would be Kyrie Irving (more likely than not to stay in Boston), Klay Thompson (likely to stay in Golden State) and Jimmy Butler.