The Lakers and Celtics are in talks with the Spurs about Kawhi Leonard, but they’re not the only teams interested in making a play for the star forward. According to Jake Fischer of SI.com, the Sixers have held “serious internal discussions” about trading for Leonard within the last couple days, and the front office has taken several trade scenarios to team ownership for consideration.
Fischer reports that the Sixers have yet to present the Spurs with a formal offer for Leonard, but their internal discussions have revolved around various young players and future draft picks.
One team source tells Fischer that, based on preliminary discussions between the Sixers and Spurs, San Antonio appears to have “strong interest” in a package that includes Dario Saric, Robert Covington, and a future first-round pick — perhaps the Heat’s 2021 first-rounder, which the 76ers acquired last Thursday from the Suns.
Markelle Fultz isn’t mentioned in the SI.com report and Fischer confirms in a follow-up tweet that last year’s No. 1 pick isn’t part of any of the proposed packages that team management has brought to Sixers ownership.
According to Fischer, the 76ers showed little interest in parting with either Saric or Covington in pre-draft trade talks when they explored moving up from No. 10. That doesn’t mean that either player would be off-limits in an offer for Leonard, but Philadelphia appears to strongly value the on- and off-court contributions it gets from Saric and Covington.
Interestingly, the Spurs have informed teams that Celtics forward Jayson Tatum is their preferred target in Leonard talks, sources tell Fischer. Other clubs believe this is a negotiating tactic though, since Boston is unlikely to surrender Tatum. Per Fischer, it’s “widely believed in league circles” that the C’s would propose a deal centered around Kyrie Irving and draft picks. We heard earlier today that Boston had yet to discuss Jaylen Brown in talks with the Spurs.
While Los Angeles is Leonard’s preferred landing spot, a source close to the situation suggests to Fischer that the star forward is open to other major markets. That could bode well for teams based in Boston, Philadelphia, and New York, though the Nets and Knicks are unlikely to be players for Leonard.
The Sixers’ offseason will be fascinating to watch, particularly if the team takes a major swing on a player like Leonard. The franchise currently doesn’t have a permanent general manager in place, with head coach Brett Brown holding the position on an interim basis after Bryan Colangelo‘s dismissal. For what it’s worth, Fischer notes that Leonard and Brown are believed to have a good relationship, dating back to their time together in San Antonio.