Top 5 Free Agency Destinations for LeBron James
Every NBA offseason comes with its fair share of huge stories, like trade rumors, the NBA Draft, and, of course, free agency. Year in and year out, we see some of the game’s biggest stars leave their current teams for greener pastures (or fatter wallets). However, it’s not every year that we get to watch the best player in the world decide where he will play next, but that’s exactly what we’ve got heading into the summer of 2018.
LeBron James‘s contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers is finished, and having just been swept by the Golden State Warriors in the Finals, there’s a good chance we’ll see The King in a new uniform come next season. That being the case, here are the five teams most likely to sign LeBron in the coming months.
los angeles lakers
LeBron and the Lakers seem to make perfect sense on a whole bunch of different levels. For one, LA has a solid group of young players including Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma who are still developing and could benefit greatly from the leadership LeBron would provide. The Lakers also seem like favorites to land All-Star forward Paul George, who could play an excellent Robin to LeBron’s Batman. Only adding to LA’s appeal is the fact that Spurs star forward Kawhi Leonard wants out of San Antonio and is eyeing the Lakers as his next destination. If all these pieces come together, the Lakers could become a super team overnight and provide a big challenge to the Warriors for the Western Conference crown. Finally, LeBron already has a great relationship with Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and owns some businesses in LA, so the Lakers could make an easy case for luring LeBron in this summer.
Unlike the Lakers, the Rockets already have the pieces needed for a super team, with MVP favorite James Harden and future Hall of Fame point guard Chris Paul currently on their roster. Houston finished the 2017-18 season with the top seed in the NBA and worked the Warriors into a 7 game series in the Western Conference Finals, only to fall just short of the championship round. As of this writing, Houston’s roster gives LeBron the best chance of winning right out of the gate, whereas the Lakers would still need to work on gathering talent around him. However, while Harden and Paul are both exceptional players, it’s tough to see exactly how LeBron could fit into their system. Paul is a legendary playmaker and ball-handler and Harden is as elite a scorer as the NBA has today, but LeBron needs the ball in his hands in order to play up to his fullest potential. It’s a little tough to imagine LeBron and Harden coalesce on the floor without one getting in the way of the other, but the potential for a championship run in Houston is as high as anywhere else.
Philly has been encouraging LeBron to “Complete the Process” for a few months now, posting billboards all over the city to lure The King in. After years of being terrible, the 76ers are finally the team they’ve been building toward, with young stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid appearing to be among the NBA’s elite players for years to come. LeBron joining up with them would place Philly right at the top of the Eastern Conference, and the mentorship he could provide to their young players would be invaluable to their progression. This is especially true in the case of Simmons, as he has a very similar playing style to LeBron’s, although he has yet to develop much of a jump shot. While the move would be amazing for the 76ers, LeBron might not find it as appealing given his desire to win right now. His addition to the roster would make Philly a powerhouse in the East, but they would still struggle mightily against the likes of the Warriors should they make the Finals.
san antonio spurs
If you think about the greatest NBA players of all time, one common denominator among most of them is that they all, at one point or another, played for a great coach. LeBron hasn’t had that luxury, as gone through seven different head coaches over his NBA career, six in Cleveland alone. Obviously LeBron doesn’t need much coaching considering how amazing he has been since the moment he stepped onto an NBA court, but putting him alongside a legendary coach could provide more insight as to how he could be even more dominant. That’s exactly what the Spurs could present to LeBron, as Gregg Popovich is without a doubt one of the greatest basketball minds of all time. A 5-time world champion, Pop has a knack for bringing out the best in all of his players, more so than any other coach of the 21st century. The Spurs have been one of the most successful franchises in sports during Pop’s tenure and LeBron would be the undisputed leader of San Antonio if he became a Spur (especially given the Kawhi Leonard situation), but it’s tough to be sure if that would be enough to warrant a signing.
It might be a long shot, but there’s a chance that LeBron decides to stay in Cleveland. The city was heartbroken when he left for Miami in 2010, but his return in 2014 breathed new life into everybody in the state of Ohio. When he finally captured a championship in 2016, LeBron solidified his place as the embodiment of Cleveland sports; the savior of a city which hadn’t won a Big 4 sports championship since the Browns won the NFL Championship in 1964. However, since we barely even talk about football championships that took place before the Super Bowl era, you could even say that Cleveland’s last major championship was the Indians’ World Series victory in 1948. LeBron is a hometown hero in Cleveland, and the attachment he has to the city alone could force him to stay put. Nonetheless, if he wants to succeed, he’ll probably have to go elsewhere, meaning that Cleveland could be without their biggest sports icon for good this time.
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