Sixers pursuing LeBron James, PG, Jimmy Butler to contend with Boston Celtics, Bucks

Los Angeles Clippers v Los Angeles Lakers
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Bleacher Report's Scott Polacek sees the Philadelphia 76ers' pursuit of LeBron James, Paul George, Jimmy Butler, and Brandon Ingram as a means to compete with the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference.

Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on June 1 that the Sixers were in pursuit of a third star to pair with Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey; listing the aforementioned names as their preferred targets in free agency and the trade market.

"Embiid and Tyrese Maxey represent a solid duo, but the 76ers will need more if they are going to make it past the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks and other top teams in the Eastern Conference in 2024-25," Polacek prefaced before saying, "Adding another star player would also give them someone who could carry the offense if Embiid is sidelined with any injury concerns."

George is the most likely to land in Philly, but a Butler reunion isn't off the table and Ingram's not-so-seamless fit with Zion Williamson could force the New Orleans Pelicans to consider a blockbuster offseason trade. LeBron ending up with the Sixers is the least likely scenario unless Philadelphia used their No. 16 or No. 41 picks to draft Bronny James and planned to pair the father and son.

Sixers can only compete with Boston Celtics if they made difficult Tyrese Maxey choice

Clogging cap space with three max players hasn't won a single title in the modern era. The Miami Heat had LeBron, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh take less money to form the "Heatles" in 2010, the Golden State Warriors were able to retain their three stars (Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green) on big deals but also maneuvered the cap to have another highly-paid star (Kevin Durant Andrew Wiggins) alongside them in a one-in-a-million type situation. The Milwaukee Bucks are the closest thing with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday, but even then Holiday wasn't on a true max contract.

What the Sixers are about to attempt with Embiid, Maxey, and a third star likely won't work. If Philadelphia wanted to bring in a star wing, which they should want to, they should pass on maxing out Maxey.

They most certainly won't, though. And then we'll see the Sixers in Cancun after the second round of the playoffs in 2025.