The 76ers could have used an NBA Finals MVP in their Eastern Conference semifinals defeat at the hands of the Celtics.
But they might make out even better than that this offseason: Philly can add two Finals MVPs, LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard.
How the 76ers can add LeBron and Kawhi
Ironically, the addition of LeBron might be easier than that of Kawhi. The Cavaliers look like a lifeless husk of the team that’s been to three consecutive NBA Finals. The 76ers have the talent to prolong his championship window and the cap space to give him the full max.
But a few things would have to go right to also add Kawhi. Most importantly, the Spurs would have to be willing to part with their superstar, a proposition that seems more likely than ever given the season-long drama between the parties.
As The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor noted, if the Spurs have interest in a package involving Markelle Fultz, Dario Saric, Robert Covington, the No. 10 pick in the upcoming draft, the last year of Jerryd Bayless’ contract, and draft-and-stash assets, the 76ers could execute a trade for Kawhi and still have the flexibility to sign LeBron and bring J.J. Redick back, should the shooting guard be willing to take a discount.
Of course, surrendering so many long-term assets for Kawhi is a massive risk. Not only did he spend practically the entire season addressing a mysterious injury, but he can jet for free agency a year from now.
Fortunately for the 76ers, they’re likely in a better position than any prospective team to assess Kawhi’s future. They’ll be more than familiar with the status of his health; Kawhi’s been rehabbing with Dr. Jonathan Glashow, the 76ers’ chief medical officer. And the two-time Defensive Player of the Year has a strong relationship with 76ers coach Brett Brown, a former Spurs assistant. So the team might be able to procure some sort of long-term commitment from Kawhi before executing a trade.
If everything falls perfectly into place, the league’s teams not named the Warriors can kiss their 2019 championship aspirations goodbye.