By Joseph Santoliquito

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — This summer was supposed to provide big results for the 76ers. There were going to get LeBron James, or possibly Paul George, and be in the running to land Kawhi Leonard, who now recent reports have the Spurs’ star going to the Toronto Raptors with their stars, DeMar DeRozan or Kyle Lowry, as the trade bait.

Instead, what happened is James signed with the Lakers, which everyone expected anyway, George stayed with Oklahoma City, which was surprising to some, and Leonard most likely won’t be wearing Sixers’ red, white and blue in the fall. Compounding all of that was the embarrassing Twitter burner account controversy that cost Bryan Colangelo his job as Sixers’ general manager.

Now, with James locked up in LA for the next four years, it appears the Lakers could be the next prime destination for prime talent to flock toward.

And don’t be surprised if 2017-18 NBA Rookie of Year Ben Simmons is one of them, after the 2021 season ends—and the Sixers are still mired behind the Boston Celtics.

For one, Simmons and James are exceptionally close. Another, Simmons is represented by Rich Paul, James close friend, and the Klutch Sports Group, which also represents James.

James’ four-year deal will carry him into 2022. By then, James will be 37 with 19 years of wear-and-tear in the NBA, and he just might be willing to hand over the reins in LA to his heir apparent, Simmons, who seems more of a “Los Angeles type of guy,” than say, Joel Embiid.

It’s not preposterous. Simmons seems like he wants the LA lifestyle, he may be tired by then of being in Embiid’s considerable shadow and there is the huge lure of playing with James before he retires.

In fact, when Simmons is up, don’t be surprised when it happens.

What may be able to stop it is if the Sixers land that star Brett Brown has been hunting for. The problem is nothing has been bagged yet—nor seems to be in the foreseeable future.

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