While the Philadelphia 76ers have been a fixture in the Eastern Conference playoff picture in recent years, the current season feels like the team’s best opportunity to capture an NBA title since Allen Iverson was rocking the red, white and blue.
As good as the Sixers have been, though, the team has clearly recognized that it needs big-time support behind Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris to win it all.
Daryl Morey’s pursuit of a high-level floor general was the talk of the NBA trade deadline. Chatter about multi-time All-Star and Toronto Raptors point-man Kyle Lowry potentially making the move from Toronto to his native Philly dominated the hoops blogosphere at the time.
In the end, the Sixers settled on journeyman George Hill for extra oomph in the backcourt, by way of a deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Before the 2020-21 season began, though, Morey and his brain trust reportedly made a strong push to acquire another one-time Thunder guard.
Specifically, a future Hall of Famer that some have said should be in the MVP discussion for his role in reviving the Phoenix Suns.
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Report: Sixers Made ‘Spirited Push’ to Land Chris Paul
During his lone season with the Thunder, 11-time All-Star Chris Paul was a revelation. Thanks in large part to his efforts, the team was able to earn a No. 5 seed for the postseason after having been deemed a fringe playoff squad by some and a lottery lock by others.
Along the way, he acted as a strong mentor for OKC’s youngsters.
Given all that he had done for the franchise in ’19-20, Thunder GM Sam Presti was willing to trade CP3 to a destination of his choosing — even if it meant taking back less in return — according to The Athletic’s Sam Amick. And while he found surprising success in OKC, Paul was looking to take his career in a new direction this season.
Ultimately, he got his wish when Presti sent him to the Suns. Consequently, Phoenix has ascended to the ranks of the elite in the Association, as Paul has teamed with Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton to lead the team to a 42-17 record as of April 23.
Before he arrived in the Valley of the Sun, though, he was apparently being pulled toward Philly.
“Ironically, sources say Philadelphia — with Morey having taken over the Sixers’ front office just weeks before Paul was sent to the Suns, and his former Clippers coach, Doc Rivers, part of their program too — made a spirited push to land Paul. The Sixers even believed there was some traction on a possible deal.”
Paul, however, was uninterested in an Eastward move:
“The interest from Paul, however, was not mutual. With Paul targeting Phoenix as the best fit professionally and personally, and Presti in a much-improved negotiating position because of the way Paul had played, the Suns had won the CP sweepstakes.”
Now, fans in Philly are left to wonder what might have been.
Hill Already Making an Impact
Although Paul and Lowry unquestionably have more name value, the Sixers’ acquisition of Hill could still be a game-changer for the club. Just three games into his run in Philly, the 34-year-old has already made an impact.
Hill has connected on 57.1% of his shots (and 66.7% of his triples) since making his Sixers debut earlier this week. He has also taken some of the team’s promising, young backcourt players under his wing.
“He’s been great ever since he’s been here even when he wasn’t active to play,” said Tyrese Maxey, via Sixers Wire. “Just talking to me and helping me be a guard in the NBA today. He played a couple of low-minute games with me and while we’re going at each other and competing extremely hard, he’s still teaching me.”
“I really do appreciate him,” he added.
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