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76ers have max cap space and Paul George is at the top of their free agent list, per report

The Philadelphia 76ers are officially on vacation after being eliminated in six games by the New York Knicks on Thursday, and now the question becomes how the Sixers will handle a pivotal summer in which they are set to have max cap space at their disposal. 

Who’s the biggest name on the 2024 free agent market? LeBron James. Our Sam Quinn argues that James should be strongly considering Philly if he wants to take his best shot at a fifth championship. It’s an unlikely outcome that James ends up in Philly, however, there is pretty nice potential consolation prize that could also defect from Los Angeles. 

Paul George, who was supposed to be locked up by the Clippers shortly after Kawhi Leonard signed his three-year, $152 million extension in January, has not made any headway on his deal with L.A., which is reportedly hesitant to offer George max money. That is something Philly can offer, and Brian Windhorst of ESPN in indeed reporting that George is at the top of Philly’s wish list. 

“I think Philly is going to come out with a max offer to Paul George,” Windhorst said. “The Clippers are going have to decide max [contract for George] or not, and Paul George is going to have to decide, ‘Do I want to stay [with the Clippers] or not.” 

Windhrost added two names to watch in terms of Philly targets: Jimmy Butler and Brandon Ingram. Neither of those guys will be a free agent, but Philly can also use its cap space to absorb money in a trade. 

As far as George is concerned, Windhorst is right: He and the Clippers both have a decision to make. With the Clippers having committed $152M to Leonard, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to then let George walk, to say nothing of James Harden, who will also be a free agent. How much cash are they willing to fork over to keep this trio together when we’re once again seeing Leonard unable to remain healthy in the playoffs? 

George has to be asking himself the same question. Do I want to tie two or three more years of my prime to Leonard, who can’t stay healthy, and Harden, who just isn’t a championship level player anymore as a main guy? With all three healthy, we saw that the Clippers could be pretty darn great for an extended period this year. But Leonard just isn’t dependable, and pairing up with Harden can’t look all that enticing to George. 

In Philly, he would have a ready-made title contender with Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey. Of course, the health of Embiid moving forward is no slam dunk. He’s hurt every year, too. But he’s usually able to play, albeit in a diminished state, and I would grade him as a far safer health bet that Leonard. 

George makes sense on any team as a two-way guy who can with and without the ball. He doesn’t detract from anything. He only enhances. And if you enhance Embiid and Maxey, you have a top-shelf contender. The Sixers are hoping George sees it that way, at least. 

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