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Report: 76ers expected to chase LeBron in free agency

Mitchell Leff / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The next step in The Process is apparently to target the best player on the planet.

The Philadelphia 76ers are gearing up to recruit LeBron James should he decline his player option and become a free agent this summer, according to Keith Pompey of

Short of signing James, the Sixers have also reportedly shown interest in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard.

Philadelphia is apparently prepared to pay the luxury tax and clear bloated salary off its books to accommodate James, who will surely command a maximum contract starting at $35 million per season.

At this point, the Sixers will have up to $25 million available if they renounce their current free agents. General manager Bryan Colangelo could create the remaining room by using the stretch provision to waive Jerryd Bayless' $8.6-million figure off the books, or by shedding salary in a trade.

If they do sign James or another max free agent, the Sixers will eventually have to pay the luxury tax to retain the young core of Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, and Markelle Fultz when their current deals expire.

However, Sixers managing partner Josh Harris assured Pompey that going into the tax would not be an issue.

“People have asked me about the luxury tax. I don’t have any problem spending for good players," Harris said.

James will be 34 next season, but he's continued to perform at an elite level. In addition to the Sixers, the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, and his current team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, are expected to pitch the superstar this summer.

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