As the Sixers continue to look for a third star, where could they turn?

Morey Sixers
Philadelphia 76ers president Daryl Morey takes questions from the media at a press conference at the NBA basketball team’s facility, June 1, 2023, in Camden, N.J. Morey composed an offbeat kind of basketball musical. Morey came up with “Small Ball,” about a small team with big basketball dreams set on the fictional Lilliput island out of “Gulliver’s Travels.”
AP Photo/Chris Szagola

Daryl Morey made it clear during his end-of-season press conference that the Sixers would be looking to find a star who would be the best fit next to Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey. He described the target as a wing “who could hold up in the regular season and in the playoffs.”

With his current two stars identified and a blank canvas of cap space, Morey is looking to find the perfect running mate this summer. Who is available? Who may shake loose? Who may be the best fit? Here are some potential stars the Sixers could pursue this summer.

Sixers rumored connections

Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George (13) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey (0) during the first half of an NBA All-Star basketball game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024.AP Photo/Darron Cummings

There are three players that have been mentioned as a possible target for the Sixers this summer whether it be via trade or free agency. The most common name associated with the Sixers is Clippers’ forward Paul George.

With George not signing an extension with the Los Angeles Clippers and their flame out in the first round, many believe there is a chance of him leaving his home state of California. Many insiders have mentioned that George has requested a max contract from LA, but they have not obliged.

The Sixers are rumored to be ready to pounce and possibly even offer Paul George a max contract to slide into the role of the third star in Philly.

He could fit seamlessly next to Embiid and Maxey, but his age, injury history, and playoff sputters have some questioning whether the Sixers should go after his services. Where there is smoke, there is fire, so until George signs that extension, Daryl Morey will be a player in the George sweepstakes.

Another player who has a chance to opt out of their current deal to become a free agent is none other than LeBron James.

Bronny was medically cleared to play in the NBA on Monday and will stay in the draft. He endured an underperforming year in college and is currently projected to go in the late second round or undrafted.

James has been quoted in the past as wanting to play with his son and that could still play a factor in his decision making. James has been linked to the 76ers in the past during his last free agency when he first signed with the Lakers. James’ agents took a meeting with the Sixers front office, but it was more of a formality as he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers almost immediately.

Could the Morey and fellow Klutch athlete Maxey lure James away from Hollywood?

Brandon Ingram is another name associated with the Sixers since his Pelicans’ first-round exit at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Although Ingram’s first performance left a lot to be desired, he was coming off an injury that ended the regular season.

The New Orleans Pelicans have been frequently reported to be looking to move Ingram to fill the team focused on Zion Williamson with rising young players Trey Murphy and Herb Jones, especially with Ingram coming up on extension talks.

Ingram has another year left on his deal after this season at 36 million and could be dangled in trade talks. If the Sixers strike out on plans A, B, and C, they may go after Ingram, who could slot next to Embiid and Maxey as a third star.

If he performs well, the Sixers may look to extend him and add him to the core of the team going forward, seeing that he is only 27. His fit is a little murky with Embiid, as he likes to occupy the midrange and wasn’t a high-volume three-point shooter last season.

Wishful thinking

Brooklyn Nets’ Mikal Bridges dribbles the ball in the first half against the Philadelphia 76ers during Game 1 in the first round of the NBA basketball playoffs, Saturday, April 15, 2023, in Philadelphia.

Mikal Bridges, who was drafted by the Sixers and subsequently traded on draft night, is now on the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets are one of the worst teams in the NBA and are trying to use Bridges as a piece to lure other stars to New York. Well with the success of the New York Knicks, the Nets have again been relegated back to the other New York team.

The Nets could look to start a rebuild this summer if they were able to acquire the right number of picks for Bridges’ services. Bridges’ performance this year showed he can be a really good No. 3 and sometimes a No. 2, but he isn’t a No. 1 option. Slotting him as the third star on the Sixers could be a great fit with a young core to go along with Embiid in his late prime years. He is a good defender and three-pointer shooter, and he improved his isolation creation.

Another name that comes to mind is Lauri Markannen of the Utah Jazz. Markannen is a one-time all-star and has shown improvement in his game over the last two years, being the guy in Utah. He’s a 7’0 forward whose ability to space the floor and be a high-volume three-point shooter would be amazing next to Embiid and Maxey.

His size could help the 76ers with their rebounding issues, and although he isn’t a great defender, Philly could use his secondary rim protection every night. He could also anchor small-ball lineups at center. He only has one more year on his current deal at 18 million, which could still allow the Sixers to make some moves in free agency. Utah President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge would likely ask for the house for the Jazz forward, making the deal unlikely.

Phoenix Suns’ forward Kevin Durant also comes to mind when looking around the possible trade market for wings that could slide in as a third star in Philadelphia. The Suns flamed out in the first round, getting swept by the Minnesota Timberwolves, a result many didn’t see coming with the likes of Durant, Booker, and Beal in the desert.

To compensate for the roster shortcomings, the Suns fired Frank Vogel as head coach, hoping that would help the team going forward. If Durant is truly unhappy and makes it known, he could request to be traded where he wants, just like he has done before.

He could fit Philly, but would he be okay taking a backseat to Maxey? Also, at this stage in his, what would the cost be for Durant? If the price is too high, you could expect Morey not to engage. If there is any hint of unhappiness coming from Phoenix, expect Morey to be on the phone immediately.