Most would tell you the Philadelphia 76ers never really had a shot to land LeBron James in free agency. The Sixers, of course, would have you believe otherwise.
Outside of James’ former team (the Cleveland Cavaliers) and the club that ended up signing him (the Los Angeles Lakers), Philly was the only franchise to score a meeting with the marquee free agent’s representatives this summer.
And Sixers managing partner Josh Harris apparently felt pretty optimistic after that meeting.
“I think (James’ group) considered us very strongly,” Harris said Monday, via ESPN.com. “I think he — I would be speculating on how he makes his decisions, and I don’t want to do that — but I think that they were really serious (about Philadelphia). The fact that they took the meeting with us was something that they didn’t view lightly, so I think that they were very serious about it.”
It obviously behooves Harris to say this, as James’ serious consideration of Philly would be a positive reflection of the franchise. The Sixers represented an enticing destination, too, with a young core of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Markelle Fultz in addition to plenty of cap space. But the lure of James’ “second home” in L.A. and a personal pitch from Magic Johnson made the Lakers clear front-runners to land LeBron, and it’s no surprise they delivered.
Now, Philly will set its sights on landing at least one elite player after also missing out on Paul George, who re-signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder. San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard is the cream of the remaining crop and reportedly hasn’t ruled out joining the Sixers via trade, so there’s still hope.