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The Philadelphia 76ers believe it was so close to forming the best team in the Eastern Conference, which could have made them a title favorite.
The 76ers expressed strong interest in signing former Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James when free agency started. However, the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player decided to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, who were actually the favorites to sign the superstar forward even before free agency kicked off.
Philadelphia 76ers Were In The Running For James
Despite failing to acquire James, the 76ers felt that the three-time NBA champion and his camp strongly considered them before making the decision to sign with the Lakers. The 76ers managed to secure a meeting with James’ agent, and Sixers managing partner Josh Harris believes that they were seriously in the running for James.
“I think he — I would be speculating on how he makes his decisions, and I don’t want to do that — but I think that they were really serious,” Harris said as reported by ESPN. “The fact that they took the meeting with us was something that they didn’t view lightly, so I think that they were very serious about it.”
Harris felt that James would have a better chance of extending his NBA Finals streak with the 76ers because it would be easier to win in the Eastern Conference. He is also convinced that the 76ers had a better core than the Lakers, citing its promising young players such as Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, and Markelle Fultz.
However, James eventually decided to team up with Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Josh Hart. After signing the 14-time All-Star, the Lakers also added veterans Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo, and JaVale McGee to boost its title chances next season.
Philadelphia 76ers Focusing On Other Options
After failing to nab the biggest free agent on the market, the 76ers is now focused on retooling its roster in any possible way. It was able to keep JJ Redick and Amir Johnson. It acquired Wilson Chandler in a trade and signed Nemanja Bjelica.
According to Philly News, the 76ers are also in talks with the San Antonio Spurs about a potential trade for Kawhi Leonard. The two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year wants out of San Antonio after his relationship with the Spurs soured due to injury concerns last season.
However, the 76ers are taking a cautious approach to Leonard. Philadelphia is reportedly unwilling to break the bank for Leonard, knowing that the 27-year-old forward could leave in free agency after next season. The California native played just nine games last season, where he averaged 16.2 points and 4.7 rebounds a game.
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