More Sports:

June 13, 2024

What they're saying: The Sixers will have competition in Paul George sweepstakes

Following the latest buzz surrounding the Sixers as a pivotal summer nears.

Sixers NBA
George Banchero 6.12.24 Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports

Could Paul George choose to sign with the Orlando Magic this summer, spurning the Sixers and Los Angeles Clippers at the same time?

We are inside of two weeks from the start of the 2024 NBA Draft, and NBA free agency — a period known for chaos — will follow just a few days later. The Sixers have reached a crossroads of sorts, and it is crucial that President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey and his front office craft and execute a sound plan this offseason.

Here are some of the latest rumblings from the rumor mill about what must be a massive summer the Sixers:

Another Paul George suitor emerges

Marc Stein | The Stein Line

Last month, it became evident through various reporting that signing George — the nine-time All-Star wing of the Los Angeles Clippers who will enter unrestricted free agency this summer after turning 34 years old — was the Sixers' dream scenario. They have been pegged as the most likely team to pry George away from his home state of California should he leave the Clippers, and with every passing day where George and the Clippers continue to fail in their quest to find common ground on a deal, that possibility grows.

But according to veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein, there may be another team with a chance of signing George if he leaves Los Angeles after five seasons on the West Coast. 

Stein writes:

"Heard it again this week: Philadelphia is not the only Eastern Conference team to monitor when it comes to trying to sign Paul George away from the LA Clippers.

Orlando continues to be mentioned by various league observers as a natural suitor for George as well as Golden State's Klay Thompson. The Clippers certainly hope to retain George in free agency, but they’ve made it clear by letting negotiations drag out to this point that they want to do it at their price.

NBA free agency, again, officially opens on June 30 at 6 PM ET ... three weeks from today. The Clippers have the rest of the month to come to terms with George on an extension that would prevent him from becoming a free agent." [The Stein Line]

It is a bit difficult to imagine George opting to sign with a small market team without a solidified MVP candidate like the Magic rather than play alongside Joel Embiid in Philadelphia, but the Magic are an extremely young and talented team that could have tremendous use for George's services — particularly his three-point shooting, as that is a major area of weakness for the Magic in recent seasons.

NBA free agency: Is Paul George the Sixers' missing piece?

Will Nic Batum return to the Sixers?

Tom West | Liberty Ballers

Rumors have been swirling since the beginning of this season — when Batum was still a member of the Los Angeles Clippers — that the veteran forward would retire after finishing the 2023-24 NBA season and participating in the 2024 Olympics. When he spoke with the media following the Sixers' playoff elimination, he certainly sounded like a player who would be content never playing another NBA game.

Recent reports, however, have indicated that there is at least a modest chance that Batum could play another NBA season. By all indications, he enjoyed his time in Philadelphia and would be willing to return.

My friend Tom West of Liberty Ballers recently broke down why bringing back Batum should be a priority for the Sixers should the 35 year-old veteran:

"It didn't take long for Batum to become a fan favorite, making little plays — from sharp rotations to help protect the basket to launching threes without hesitation — that the team hasn’t been used to seeing from its wing rotation. Batum went on to average 5.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.6 blocks in 25.9 minutes per game with a 39.9 percent three-point stroke for the regular season. 

The box score numbers (apart from the solid rebounding rate and three-point percentage) aren’t what matter with Batum, though. Offensively, he does all the main things the team needs from a complementary forward. For starters, he’s a quick-trigger shooter who won’t hesitate to fire when he has a little room. He can shoot against closeouts or pump fake into space if need be, and shoot off the catch without even needing to lower the ball before releasing — an extremely difficult skill that he’s mastered...

Considering Batum’s great fit and positive impact all season, his fondness for the team, and the promising reporting about the two sides working out a new deal, it looks like there’s a pretty good chance Batum stays in Philadelphia. The Sixers should certainly do all they realistically can to make it happen." [Liberty Ballers]

I don't think anybody would dispute it at this point — Batum was a crucial piece for the Sixers last season, and even at his advanced age, he could give them quality minutes in 2024-25.

Sixers stay or go: Is Nic Batum's NBA career over?

Two potential draft routes

Jonathan Givony, Jeremy Woo | ESPN

ESPN NBA Draft experts Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo recently put together an interesting exercise: they performed dueling mock drafts, where Givony made selections for teams solely based on team needs, while Woo chose prospects who he thought were most valuable. It was an interesting dichotomy that resulted in very different selections for the Sixers at No. 16.

Givony ended up selecting Colorado wing Tristan da Silva, who is already 23 years old but has a strong frame and impressive shooting stroke at the wing position.

"With Tobias Harris entering unrestricted free agency and coming off making $39 million, it might make sense for the Sixers to draft a player at his position to give them insurance. Da Silva, ranked No. 17 in ESPN's Top 100, has excellent size at 6-foot-10, made 40% of his 3-pointers and brings a strong feel for the game, unselfishness and competitiveness on both ends of the floor. He should be ready to play fairly soon for a team that's not looking to take a step backward." [ESPN]

Woo shot for upside, selecting Pittsburgh guard Carlton Carrington, who is still only 18 years old but a player many believe to have star potential if things break right:

"The Sixers hit big on Tyrese Maxey in 2020 when he fell to them at No. 21. And in much the same way, Carrington has a chance to deliver pretty exciting value outside the lottery. Whether Philadelphia would go this route is fair to ask -- they could use more immediate help -- but a Carrington-Maxey backcourt pairing would be exciting for the future." [ESPN]

NBA mock draft roundup: Can Sixers add impact player at No. 16?

Follow Adam on Twitter: @SixersAdam

Follow PhillyVoice on Twitter: @thephillyvoice