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July 08, 2018

Optimistic Sixers will (kind of) have superstar options in 2019 — if they're lucky

The Sixers hunt for a star, and therefore 'The Process', is on hold.

In our third look at the "star hunting" options for the up and coming 76ers, (after looking at remaining 2018 free agent options and trade scenarios) we'll take a look at what the front office hopes lies ahead a year from now.

Trades, like one for Kawhi Leonard, are still possible as this offseason continues, but if the Sixers aren't able to land an unlikely deal before 2018-19 begins, they are in good shape for the next free agent frenzy.

In theory at least.

In trading for the big contract of Wilson Chandler and inking J.J. Redick to another one-year pact (and with other contracts set to expire), Philadelphia should have upwards of $40 million after next season — enough for a max deal to a superstar player. The window isn't huge, as the team will have contract extensions due for Ben Simmons, Dario Saric and potentially Markelle Fultz in 2020 and beyond, eliminating their ability to be aggressive with free agents.

Who might be in their aspirational plans for next July?

Six Sixers free agent targets in 2019

Kawhi Leonard, F

One of the main hesitations on Philly's part, with regard to sending a big package to the Spurs for Leonard's services is his expiring contract and the uncertainty of his destination in 2019. If the Sixers withhold from making a trade this summer they will no doubt be knocking at the NBA's top wing defender's door with a monster contract next year.

Klay Thompson, G

Thompson maybe the perfect fit for the Sixers next season, as Thompson is already one of the best three-point shooters of all time. If the Warriors are unable to continue their salary cap tightrope walk, find themselves in luxury tax hell, or if Thompson decides he wants to be a No. 1 scoring option elsewhere, Simmons and Joel Embiid will perhaps join their dream teammate in his prime (he will be 29 in 2019). A lot can change in a year, but if he does take a discount to stay in Golden State (like DeMarcus Cousins did last week) he might not hit the market at all.

Kemba Walker, G

Walker is on an expiring deal and has been the subject of trade rumors for a while. When he hits free agency next season Philadelphia will have to at least kick the tires on a player who is gifted at creating scoring chances — a skill the Sixers have lacked of late.

Jimmy Butler, F

Butler has an option after this season in Minnesota but the buzz around the league is that he doesn't particularly like the climate in the Bold North (literally and figuratively). Butler is an offensive star and another remarkably good fit for the Sixers.

Kevin Love, F

Love too has a player option next season, and one can't imagine his situation in a Lebron James-less Cleveland to be conducive to his willful return in 2019-20. If he hits the free agent market expect him to consider the Sixers and vice versa. 

Eric Bledsoe, G

Bledsoe is entering the last year of a pretty bad contract, worth $15 million next season and the Bucks seem unlikely to sign him back in 2019. He's scored at least 17 points per game over each of the last five seasons and at the right price could be a valuable scorer for Philly.

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