By Tommy Matthews

The Sixers front office is more optimistic about their chances after Paul George’s opt-out, per Marc Stein:

“The Philadelphia 76ers have a significant measure of renewed hope in their bid to win the Paul George Sweepstakes. Despite a persistent belief around the league that staying with the Clippers is his true preference and that George does not want to move away from the West Coast, Philadelphia will now have a real opportunity to sign him away outright with its maximum salary cap space projected to exceed $60 million … as well as their apparent willingness to furnish a four-year offer.”

The Sixers, the Magic, and the Clippers are the “finalists” to sign Paul George in free agency. While it’s not a guarantee, that means that Philly has a real chance of snagging PG. Their main asset is their cap space: the 76ers are poised to be able to give George his desired four-year deal. So far, rumors indicate that the Clippers are only willing to give three right now.

Should the 76ers land Paul George, they would form an intriguing Big 3. Tyrese Maxey came into his own last season as an All-Star point guard after James Harden’s departure. Joel Embiid, for all of the criticism of his style of play, is still an MVP-caliber center and a top-5 player. George will give this team a much-needed boost with their perimeter defense, as well as his elite scoring and shooting from the outside.

That, in other words, means it’s Daryl Morey time.

Most of the cap-space teams find themselves with extra resources because they’ve been so bad in recent years they have mostly recent draft picks on their books.

And while Orlando, which notably declined several options on Saturday to keep its cap space open, also looms after a strong showing in the first round of the playoffs, thirtysomething stars with precious few good years left rarely bet on youth (although it did work for Chris Paul and Phoenix).

Philly, on the other hand, can offer George a chance to contend for titles immediately, alongside two in-their-prime All-Stars, and pay him as much as he can earn.

It’s the most viable alternative. Maybe the Sixers end up as nothing more than leverage to get George a sweeter deal to return to the Clippers. But Morey’s bet on flexibility has at least put Philly in position to be the team to capitalize should chaos rule.

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