The Philadelphia 76ers could be a ‘dark horse’ in the Paul George lottery this offseason. Brad Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer pointed out in his column that George cane is worth a gamble for president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo.

With Larry Bird stepping down as the top decision-maker for the Indiana Pacers, Ford believes there’s a greater chance the Pacers will trade the superstar swingman before he gets an opportunity to bolt out in free-agency.

George, who can exercise his early termination option in 2018, has been linked to a potential move to the Los Angeles Lakers, but the Pacers can cushion the impact of their star’s impending departure by trading him to a team that can give them better trade package.

Bidding War for George

The Boston Celtics, who have the highest chance of landing the top pick of this year’s draft, are viewed as the strongest contender for George once he hits the trade market. After all, the Celtics can throw in several high draft picks and intriguing young prospects.

Moreover, Boston’s financial flexibility has put them in a position to absorb George’s contract via trade and sign another max-level player like Utah Jazz’s Gordon Hayward and Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin. In short, the Celtics are very capable of forming another Super Team in the Eastern Conference with a hypothetical starting lineup that includes All-Stars Isaiah Thomas, Al Holford, George and the max-level free agent.

As for the Lakers, team president Magic Johnson might also be willing to engage in the bidding war for George, although not to the extent of trading the former no. 2 overall picks, Brandon Ingram. The former Duke standout is reportedly untouchable because of his high ceiling. If the Lakers would pursue a trade, it is expected that D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, and a top-3 pick are in play.

The Dark Horse

One team that could come out of nowhere and steal George is the Sixers. John Smallwood of the Philadelphia Daily News believes landing George in a trade will be a defining moment for Colangelo as the Sixers president.

Like the Celtics, the Sixers have a collection of young players and draft picks to woe the Pacers’ front-office.

Philadelphia can even present a better trade package than Boston if they can get their second top-10 pick from the Lakers. With the two high picks and possibly former no. 3 pick Jahlil Okafor part of the package, Philadelphia has a legit case to outdo the Celtics and the Lakers in the bidding war for George. Moreover, there’s an incentive for the Pacers in trading George to a rebuilding team like the Sixers than the already star-studded Celtics squad.

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