Top 5 Philadelphia 76ers Free Agent Target Options in Make-or-Break Summer.

Following another disappointing earlier-than-intended Eastern Conference playoff exit, the Philadelphia 76ers are looking to fortify their talent around incumbent All-Stars Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey, the latter of whom is a restricted free agent.

Per Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer, Sixers team president Daryl Morey is hoping to add a high-caliber swingman to the mix. L.A. Clippers All-Star forward Paul George has long been a Morey target. He has yet to agree to a contract extension with the Clippers and could reach unrestricted free agency on July 1 if that remains the case. Fischer notes that Golden State Warriors ex-All-Star shooting guard/small forward Klay Thompson and Denver Nuggets wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope could be inked to non-maximum two-year deals, with the second season non-guaranteed.

In terms of possible trade targets, Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star shooting guard Donovan Mitchell, Miami Heat small forward Jimmy Butler (who enjoyed a brief-but-eventful prior stint with Philadelphia during the 2018-19 season, before ultimately leaving in free agency) and Chicago Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine could all be possibilities for Philadelphia.

Focusing the search on just free-agent prospects (thus eliminating contenders like Butler or Mitchell), who would best help the Sixers at least make the Eastern Conference Finals again for the first time since 2001?

Paul George #13 of the LA Clippers guards Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers during the second quarter at Wells Fargo Center on December 23, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. George could be an intriguing…  GETTY IMAGES/TIM NWACHUKWU

5. OG Anunoby

The 3-and-D swingman helped make the New York Knicks almost unbeatable this season when he did play — unfortunately, as has been his custom, that was about half the time. Anunoby has long been dogged by health issues and is not the level of scorer or playmaker to warrant a full maximum salary. This could make him a nice consolation prize for Philadelphia, however, as he’d give the club basically what it needs without taking the ball out of the hands of Embiid or Maxey too much. He’d just cost a bit more than he’s probably worth in terms of on-court production.

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4. DeMar DeRozan

Even on the cusp of his 35th birthday this August, DeRozan remains one of the league’s best iso scorers. Though he’s not much of a three-point shooter generally, he did make a totally passable 33.3 percent of his triple tries this season with the Chicago Bulls, albeit on a low-volume 2.8 attempts per. The 6-foot-6 swingman, unlike Anunoby, is quite durable, having played at least 74 games in each of his last three seasons in Chicago. He’s terrific at drawing contact inside, scoring from midrange, and handling the rock. He’s not so great at defense or spreading the floor, but thanks to also probably not requiring an absolute maximum deal, Philadelphia may be able to supplement his absence with some talented depth.

3. Paul George

George is probably the best player among any of these top five, but his cost, age, injury history and occasional playoff disappearing acts make him feel riskier than my top two picks. When healthy, he’s still one of the elite forwards in the NBA — a three-level scorer who’s developed a silky-smooth jumper and can convincingly defend shooting guards through power forwards. He’s the best “on paper” fit. Signing him would limit the kinds of moves around the margins that could help supplement the Sixers’ depth.

2. Pascal Siakam

Siakam was flipped to the Indiana Pacers from the Toronto Raptors this year with a clear eye toward a long-term retention, but officially he will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’s been the best two-way player for a No. 6 seed that has snuck into the Eastern Conference Finals this spring, despite not even having much of a jumper beyond the paint. A two-time All-NBA teamer and two-time All-Star, Siakam has managed to carve out a unique niche as a crafty, athletic two-way big man who understands what it takes to win at the highest level. His lack of a jumper could be mitigated by the output of Embiid and Maxey, and he too may not require an absolute maximum salary to be lured away from re-signing with Indiana, which makes him a bit more appetizing from a more cumulative team-building perspective.

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1. LeBron James

Yes, he may be the oldest player in the league and heading into his age-40 season. Yes, he has regressed defensively. Yes, he will probably demand a full maximum salary from a team that, like Philadelphia, has enough room for a maximum signing. But he’s still one of the NBA’s best scorers and passers and has none of the clutch question marks plaguing George’s recent postseason output. James showed off plenty of two-way prowess when the calendar flipped to the postseason. He basically defers from defensive duty during regular seasons now, but can still summon ferocious ability on that end of the hardwood when the games start to count. The four-time MVP is not the all-world superstar he was during his Miami Heat-era prime, but he’d truly be able to return to an All-Star “Big Three” again, following several disappointing recent runs with the Los Angeles Lakers.


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