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June 29, 2023

NBA trade rumors: Could Sixers swap assets from Clippers to bring in Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard?

The possibilities are endless, all of a sudden, for the wheeling Sixers.

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Damian-Lillard-James-Harden-Sixers-Blazers Eric Hartline/USA Today Sports

Blazers guard Damian Lillard drives against Sixers guard James Harden.

Things are starting to heat up ahead of NBA free agency.

With news breaking that James Harden would opt into his one year deal with the Sixers and seek a trade, the possibilities (or lack there of) were hard not to consider.

Reports suggest the Clippers are a leading candidate for a trade, and that Kawhi Leonard and Paul George would not be involved in that deal. But L.A. does have first round picks and a bunch of tradable contracts, as mentioned by our Sixers' beat writer Kyle Neubeck.

But with Harden opting into his deal, the Clippers now need to think primarily about matching salaries and putting together a proper offer. 

And the Clippers have begun to make moves in order to clean up their cap sheet, signaling that something bigger could be coming. Eric Gordon's non-guaranteed salary was declined by the Clippers this week, bringing down their cap sheet by roughly $20 million and getting them closer to a workable deal under the new CBA rules. 

Could a trade to L.A. just be a preamble for something bigger? 

If you ask ESPN's Brin Windhorst — which the PTI guys did shortly after Harden's 5 p.m. opt-in, the answer is yes. And it's a very compelling yes.

"I wouldn't be surprised if we see Kyrie [Irving] want to investigate what's going on in Philadelphia," Windhorst said on ESPN, "if Harden moves out, if theres a window for him to come in. The other name here is [Damian] Lillard. Is it possible for Philadelphia to acquire assets from L.A. and put their assets together to make an offer for Dame Lillard? Or they could go with Tyrese Maxey and go with whatever assets they get from a James Harden trade and sent them somewhere else."

All of a sudden, the potential Sixers roster for 2023-24 has a ton more possibilities. With the Blazers looking to retool or even rebuild, sending a package that involves some picks from Los Angeles could help move the needle.

The Sixers now will need a guard, and Irving is the other interesting superstar available. He is set to visit the Suns but it seems unlikely a sign and trade deal to Phoenix could work for Dallas. And while the idea is interesting, the Mavericks and Sixers would have issues making the money work. 

Seemingly out of nowhere, it is shaping up to be a wild free agency. Buckle in.

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