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July 03, 2018

Kemba Walker, C.J. McCollum candidates for Sixers as 'star hunt' continues

As we hinted at yesterday, the Sixers intention to go "star hunting" has slim pickins' left in free agency — meaning any acquisition of a star piece to play alongside cornerstones Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons must be had via a trade.

With the biggest names on the free agent market as of Tuesday restricted free agents like Jabari Parker or role players like Jamal Crawford, Brett Brown best be getting creative.

Kawhi Leonard is at the top of the wish list, but his future with the Sixers after one season, even if they pull off a trade, is in doubt as he is expected to jump ship to Los Angeles in 2019. But there are a bevy of other options. 

Any trade for a player listed below would include some combination of future Sixers draft picks, their 2021 Miami Heat first rounder, Markelle Fultz, Dario Saric, Robert Covington, 2018 first rounders Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamut and others from the deep pools of assets Philadelphia has stockpiled.

Here's a look at five potential Sixers' trade targets:

Kawhi Leonard, F (27-years-old, 16.3 ppg)

Leonard is arguably the best wing defender in the NBA and a potent scorer. Him on the floor with the Sixers' core would instantly make Philly, already one of the top two or three teams in the Eastern Conference, an NBA Finals contender. As mentioned before, the Spurs asking price and his impending free agency could be big hurdles. He is also coming off of an injury and peculiar refusal to play — or even be present — down the stretch in San Antonio last spring. Leonard is the prize of the trade market but the Lakers are no doubt in hot pursuit.

Kemba Walker, G (28, 18.9 ppg)

A gifted scorer fresh off scoring 22.1 points per game for the mediocre Hornets, Walker has been the subject of trade rumors for quite some time. He is due only $12 million next season and is also a free agent in 2019. He certainly brings the offense the Sixers need — and their excess of defensive talent could help him hide on the other end of the floor. But he might clash with two ball-dominant players in Embiid and Simmons. Nonetheless, for a smaller price tag Walker may be an attainable star for Philly.

C.J. McCollum, G (26, 17.2 ppg)

We've reached the first of the trade candidates not on an expiring contract — which could raise the price tag. Rumors have swirled for quite some time that the Blazers were shopping their star guard. He is an efficient scorer and one of the best fits for Philly out there but he is in the midst of a four-year, $106 million deal that could hamper future moves for the Sixers. 

Bradley Beal, G (25, 18.7 ppg)

Washington looks stuck in a tier below the East's best and they may be looking to retool. Moving Beal's gigantic contract, he's due more than $75 million over the next three seasons — may be in the cards for them. He brings with him to a potential trade the ability to score in bunches, as he's coming off of the two best seasons of his NBA career averaging more than 22 points and 46 percent shooting in each.

Kevin Love, F, (29, 18.3 ppg)

Yes, we know, the Cavaliers recently said they intended to keep their double-double machine Kevin Love regardless of LeBron James' decision — but reality is harsh sometimes. Looking toward a rebuild, the Cavs may decide not to fight and claw for a 7th or 8th spot in the playoffs and early exit and instead collect young players and future assets. No team is better equipped to offer that than Philly and Love's shooting ability could make him a good fit in the Sixers' starting five.

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