The NBA season just ended, and the Golden State Warriors cruised to their 3rd championship in the last four years, which has only been done by two other teams since 1990, but these teams did not need an extra year to do so. The teams that won three consecutive championships include Michael Jordan and the Bulls, not once but twice from 91’-93’ and from 96’-98’. The Los Angeles Lakers were the other team to accomplish this feat and did so from 00’—02’ and were headlined by Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. Although the Warriors have made rare history, it is not the talk of the offseason and it isn’t even really even being discussed, because once they made it past the Houston Rockets, which was by far their greatest challenge in the 2018 NBA Playoffs, a championship was expected, and if they were to lose, the NBA community would have been shocked and in disbelief. Instead of talk of the champions from the Bay Area, everyone is speculating about the Lebron James and what uniform he will be in next year. As most know, LeBron could choose just about any team in the NBA, but I will present a list of teams from least feasible to the most that are actually contenders to acquire him and make their home the new territory for the throne of King James.
The Los Angeles Clippers:
LeBron is speculated to be heading to LA, but this isn’t the team everyone is speaking of. Jerry West, a front office consultant for the Clippers, and LeBron have built a healthy relationship as NBA greats over the years of his career and even calls West “The Godfather”. It would take DeAndre Jordan and Austin Rivers or Milos Teodosic opting out of their contracts while also having to renounce Avery Bradley’s free agent rights to be able to sign Mr. James to the max contract (assuming he signs a contract of the same structure he did with the Cavs, he could sign a three year with a player option on year three for about 111.4 million dollars for any non-Cavalier team) he not only deserves but will most likely demand. It doesn’t seem feasible that LeBron would do this because first, how much of an upgrade is this team over the Cavs and he would be moving out to the Western Conference which has better competition.
The Miami Heat:
Will we see LeBron “take his talents” to South Beach again and remain in the East where he is undoubtable dominated his whole career? Although this more realistic than the Clippers, it also does not seem likely. The Heat would have to trade two of the following three players (Hassan Whiteside, Dion Waiters, or Tyler Johnson) to clear up cap space to be able to sign James to three-year player option type contract. But, with Dwyane Wade considering retirement and three major pieces of the Heats’ roster being moved to acquire James, it does not seem likely that this would be an ideal landing spot for LeBron. But then again, Pat Riley has Zen like way to convince people to come down to the sunshine state, but does he have the necessary resources (i.e. players and money) to perhaps see the Decision Pt. II? Highly unlikely.
The San Antonio Spurs:
One of the most legendary coaches in the history of the NBA, Greg Popovich, pairing with one of the most dominant and best players we have ever seen in the NBA, a match made in heaven. Both have mutual respect for each other, and both could benefit greatly from working with each other. The style of play in which LeBron plays could perfectly fit in the Spurs system, but it may just be a bad time for this combo to come to fruition. For this to happen, Tony Parker would have to be a casualty, Danny Green and Rudy Gay would have to deny their player options, and Pau Gasol would most likely have to be traded to free enough cap space for the King’s contract. Another option would be a trade involving LaMarcus Aldridge or Kawhi Leonard. With Kawhi wanting out of Spurs’ Nation (and has a preferred destination in LA), maybe trading him to the Cavs is the best move at this point. But, would LeBron James want to play with a team that only functioned to their highest capabilities when Kawhi was on the court with them? Or is Greg Popovich and LaMarcus Aldridge and Co. enough to sway the King to compete in the Western Conference? As much as I think this would be the best fit in the West for LeBron, at this moment, I do not think it is probably just because of Kawhi’s news of wanting to possible play with the Lakers, which would deter him from joining the legendary organization.
The Houston Rockets:
This is where the list starts to get a bit more serious. This is a team that just took the world champion Warriors to 7 in the Western Conference Finals without their main facilitator and good friend of LeBron James, Chris Paul. Let’s not forget that they also have a guy named James Harden, who is the front-runner for the 2017-18 NBA MVP. This team is full of complementary pieces for LeBron James and there is no state tax in Texas so his max contract would be worth a but more here. The Rockets would have to be in a trade scenario with the Cavaliers, and would most likely send away Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, and maybe some future draft picks in exchange for the King but would most likely have to part ways with Trevor Ariza as well. Clint Capela also has to resign, and this will not be cheap because he showed his value to the team, but that will be negotiated once the James decision is made. If I’m LeBron James and I’m thinking about heading out West, Houston is one of the only team I am considering because they clearly have the fire power to compete with not only the champions, but everyone else in the NBA.
The Los Angeles Lakers:
LA, the hottest destination for all free agents in the NBA right now. Kawhi Leonard wants to be there, Paul George has already expressed interest, and we all know that this is one of the teams that LeBron is considering heavily, whether he says it directly or not. The Lakers are young and very talented boasting next generation players such as Lonza Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and Brandon Ingram, while also having loads of cap space with enough money for two max contacts over the next two summers. No trades and no need to strip the roster of players because the money is already there. In terms of financial feasibility for the teams involved, this would be the second easiest move for LeBron, of course the first would be to stay home. Magic Johnson & Co. are committed to turning this franchise back into the Showtime Lakers, and Lebron would be the first great experienced addition for the young gunners they already have there. Did I mention that LeBron has been looking at high schools in Los Angeles for his son Bronny?
The Philadelphia 76ers:
The King can stay in the Eastern Conference, have an easy move about four hours away from where he is now, and will also being surrounded by young talent that he desperately wants and needs. Philly, the home of Joel “The Process” Embiid and Ben Simmons, has three of the Sixers’ four highest paid players coming off their books in July, so they are very close to having space for a max contract, and would have to make miniscule moves in order to sign James and keep him as dominating force in the East. JJ Redick, the 76ers sharp shooter, will most likely have to be let go, but it would be worth it if LeBron came to a team that made an unexpected playoff run just this year once Embiid came back from injury. It is very possible that LeBron leaves home, but remains in the East, but will he “Trust the Process?”
The Cleveland Cavaliers:
James has spent 11 years in Cleveland, won the city its first NBA championship, and can get paid the most if he just stays put. But, as we saw in the Finals, this team is not equipped to win a championship in a league which is dominated by super-teams. The only the Cavs have going for them at the moment in the 2018 Brooklyn Nets first round pick (which is the 8th pick in the draft) and plenty of role players that can be traded away for others that benefit the style of LeBron better than the players that are currently on the roster. Can we see moves for Kemba Walker and Paul George to come to Cleveland so the Cavaliers can have a super-team of their own, or will the Cavs lose LeBron again from neglecting his wants and needs?
In terms of cap space and signing feasibility, the Lakers and 76ers probably have the best shot in signing James just because they would have to make the least moves to do so. But, I still do believe that the San Antonio Spurs is the best fit for LeBron although I do not think he will end up there. If I had to make an educated guess, I would say LeBron stays in the East and decides whether to remain home in Cleveland or skip to Philly. If I were in LeBron’s inner circle, I would also tell him to look into teams such as the Indiana Pacers (who have cap space and great complementary players) or Milwaukee Bucks (who have an experienced young team) as possible landing destinations as well. The city shouldn’t matter if we’re talking about his legacy or his desire to be the greatest NBA player ever, but the team’s components and chemistry should. But as we know, LeBron James is one of the most cerebral players to have ever played the game, so we can be assured that every factor will be thought of diligently when making what is arguably the most difficult and important decision of his career. Well, good luck Mr. James, we will once again await your decision and see how it affects the NBA this time.