Everybody has an opinion on where LeBron James will sign this offseason. But almost all of it is just guesses and speculation.
James has been relatively quiet on where he will be playing this coming season. When asked if he played his last game with the Cavs after the NBA Finals, James said he has “no idea at this point.”
There have been a lot of teams in the LeBron James free agency talks. Here are the top five teams according to betonline.ag that have the best odds of signing James.
Los Angeles Lakers
There has been plenty of talk about James heading to Los Angeles. The fact he owns a home over there adds fuel to the prediction.
But let’s be honest. James would only consider a team like L.A. if he was done trying to win championships. The cast of Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram would not be getting by teams like the Warriors or the Rockets. The Lakers would have to bring in two other star players for a move like this to be taken seriously.
Paul George has expressed interest in playing for his hometown team Los Angeles Lakers in the past. And now after Kawhi Leonard has requested a trade, preferably to the Lakers, maybe the LA could pull this off after all and be contenders once again.
However, the Lakers have struggled to draw star players to their organization for several years now. James arguably just had the best season of his career. He is not about to stop trying to win in the NBA. If the Lakers fail to bring any other star players over, a move to Los Angeles just does not make sense for James.
However, it is definitely possible in the future that James joins the Lakers just to finish out his career. But it is too early in his career to do something like that.
In terms of winning a title, this could be the best team for James to join. Houston just won 65 games with James Harden and Chris Paul leading the way. They almost dethroned the Warriors in the Western Conference finals, but lost the series in seven games after Paul went down with an injury.
It has been reported that Paul is heavily recruiting James to Houston. However, Houston would not be able to keep the same team together if they signed James. Paul, along with Clint Capela, Trevor Ariza and Gerald Green, are all free agents.
The Rockets will have a hard time just paying these guys. They will most likely not have enough money to pay James unless some players take pay cuts or they let some key players go. With Paul struggling to stay healthy lately and the possibility of the Rockets losing their depth, this team may not be as dominant as some people may think.
Also, Akron Beacon Journal columnist Marla Ridenour recently told ESPN that she has heard James say he does not like Houston as a city. Take that how you want to.
Why not stay home? It makes the most sense for James to stay in Cleveland, and here is why.
James needs to stay in the Eastern Conference in order to keep making it to the NBA Finals. As of now, the two best teams in the NBA are the Warriors and Rockets, both in the Western Conference. Moving to the West would prevent him from ever making it to another NBA Finals, let alone win one.
Also, if he leaves Cleveland, he risks having the title of “ring chaser” tagged to his legacy. There is already a narrative that James cannot win championships without building super teams. There have been plenty of stars that chased rings when they were out of their primes, but as stated before, James is still the best player in the NBA. If he leaves Cleveland and builds another super team, the narrative would have more truth to it.
If James cares about winning, as well as his legacy, he will stay in Cleveland. The difficult part will be bringing another star to the Cavs. Cleveland has been in trade talks to get Kawhi Leonard and Kemba Walker, which could work. But they are so deep in bad contracts that it will be very tricky to come up with any money to go out and sign another star if they re-sign James.
Really, the only appealing team for James to leave the Cavs for is the 76ers.
For starters, they have a lot of young talent. Joel Embiid is arguably a top-15 player in the league. Ben Simmons may be the next Rookie of the Year (and possibly the next LeBron James). Robert Covington was named NBA All-Defensive first team this season. Dario Saric is another young and upcoming talent. Markelle Fultz could turn out to be a great player if he can get his shot back. Philly also has two first-round picks in this draft.
That seems much more appealing than playing with Kevin Love, JR Smith, Tristan Thompson and George Hill. The 76ers also just parted ways with general manager Bryan Colangelo, and former Cavs general manager David Griffin is a top candidate to replace him. Griffin and James had a good relationship in Cleveland and could team up once again in Philadelphia.
There are only a couple concerns about this move. With James and Simmons having similar styles of play, could James possibly hinder the production and development of Simmons? It is something to consider, but with people like Embiid recruiting LeBron, perhaps it is not a major concern of theirs.
Also, James has always preferred playing with veterans over young players, but the 76ers may be an exception here with how far ahead of schedule they are.
All of the game’s greats have played with a legendary head coach. Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant all won under Phil Jackson. Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won under Pat Riley. Tim Duncan won under Gregg Popovich.
James has never played with a great head coach, but he could if he moved over to San Antonio. Popovich has brought five titles to the Spurs and he could most definitely bring a sixth with James.
However, if San Antonio does trade Kawhi Leonard, there are not many star players James could team up with. Tony Parker is 36, and his best days are behind him. Once the season starts, Manu Ginolbli will be 41, Pau Gasol will be 38 and LaMarcus Aldridge will be 33.
Unless San Antonio gets a great return for Leonard or brings in other star players, Popovich would be the only appealing thing about playing with the Spurs. As stated before, with all the contenders in the West, there is no way San Antonio stands a chance with just James and a bunch of old players.
Featured image by David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
“From Our Haus to Yours”