Looking ahead at the Sixers: Not to Game 2, but to free agency | LeBron James? Kevin Durant? Paul George?
New Jersey Local | 1 week ago

PHILADELPHIA - It's frightening how good the Sixers have become in such a short period of time. And now it is time for an even scarier thought: They have the flexibility to be even better when next season begins.

Kevin Durant is a possibility. So is LeBron James. Or Kawhi Leonard. Or Paul George. Or none of the above. The only thing that's certain is that options will be on the table.

Salary cap space, draft picks and roster flexibility are all as abundant as Joel Embiid's mask choices as the Sixers look to the short-term and long-term future.

And while a valid "Don't change a thing" argument can be made, the fact of the matter is that Bryan Colangelo will have an extraordinary amount of options to make the team even better. With the salary cap expected to be around $101 million, the Sixers are currently projected to be $25 million beneath it.

And since it takes $35 million to dole out a max contract there are innumerable ways to find $10 million worth of flexibility.

So the future could include bringing in James as a free agent, though one would think the accompanying drama would be something to avoid -- even though it would probably qualify as Wish List Item No. 1 on Ben Simmons' hope chest checklist.

Yes, that could include trading for Leonard, who checks in as a Top 10 NBA talent when healthy and happy -- if he is indeed capable of either of those normal human characteristics.

And it also could and will include a round of knucklehead hunting, with Colangelo finding more ways to pluck future lottery picks from teams with well-chronicled histories of making epic mistakes. Yes, that would include you, Vlade Divac.

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As he sat at the postgame interview podium Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center, coach Brett Brown did the gentlemanly thing and refused to tell a lie to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne as she quizzed him on the gratification analytic that he was experiencing after so many years of tanking.

And Brown is relishing it, knowing that in addition to the magic that his team is producing now, the future holds more promise than one might find at Margarine Markdown Day at Walmart.

For starters, the Sixers' have the Lakers' lottery pick. There are only 11 ping-pong ball combinations that could land Philadelphia the No. 1 pick in the draft. Impossible? No. Improbable? Yes. But crazy stuff happens, as evidenced by Marco Belinelli's shooting display Saturday night as he channeled Kobe Bryant.

Look up the etymology of the word "upset," and you will learn a little something about horse racing history. Do a Google search of "Pat Williams Orlando Magic" and you will learn something about how likelihood can take a back seat to luck when it comes to the draft lottery.

As noted on NJ Advance Media a couple weeks ago, the Sixers are enamored of Deandre Ayton, Luka Doncic and Marvin Bagley III.

But for the time being, they are just as enamored with J.J. Redick, Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova -- all of whom will be unrestricted free agents come July 1. Amir Johnson also will be unrestricted, along with T.J. McConnell and Richaun Holmes, whose Bird rights belong to Philadelphia.

The Sixers have only $70.5 million in salary commitments for next season.

George is going to be on the market, and everyone expects him to land with the Lakers. James is leaving Cleveland, and his final home game is Wednesday night unless the Cavs figure out the Pacers.

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