Looking at the Most Likely Contenders to Sign LeBron James
If you live under a rock, I am here to inform you that LeBron James is a free agent for the third time in his career. As the best player in the league almost every team in the NBA would be ecstatic to acquire the services of the baller from Akron, Ohio. Unfortunately, not every team is going to have an entrance into the sweepstakes for James. The likelihood of LeBron joining the Atlanta Hawks is as high as JaMarcus Russell winning a super bowl.
Joking aside, one lucky franchise is going to end up signing James. Brian Windhorst of ESPN has reported that James’ decision will be made before The Fourth of July. To what team? Not sure, but the same landing spots continue to come up in discussions regarding where the King ends up. Houston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Los Angeles seem like the most likely destinations, but what would be the best situation for James? Let’s take a look:
Houston: This is the least likely to occur of the four teams I listed. Houston is still interested in signing LeBron, but they also have to focus on re-signing Chris Paul. Plus, when / if they get Paul back there is no way there would be enough ball to go around with him, LeBron, and 2018 MVP James Harden on the court.
Regarding scheme, LeBron fits coach Mike D’Antoni’s offense to an extent. D’Antoni loves to score via easy buckets down low, or by shooting a million threes a game. James can obviously get to the basket, therefore his paint penetration would open up shots on the outside for guys like Eric Gordon, Harden, and Paul. That is what makes it’s tough to envision LeBron playing in Texas. There is no way that he relegates Harden and Paul to complimentary three point shooters, and his demand for the ball would end up doing that.
Likelihood he signs: 2/10
Philadelphia: LeBron going to Philly seems like a nightmare scenario for any team in the Eastern Conference. Pairing him with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons is almost unfair. James could be a great mentor to Simmons- who plays similarly to James- while also guiding them far into the postseason.
The Sixers have plenty of talent to surround James, but playing next to Simmons could be difficult because of his inability to shoot. Like I said already, LeBron demands the ball. The offense runs through him. If LeBron goes to Philly he takes the ball out of Simmons’ hands. Simmons becomes less of a player because his role shrinks. It isn’t like LBJ could pass it out to him to shoot either because, well, he can’t shoot.
Despite the question of the fit of Simmons and James, Philadelphia is a good landing spot for James. The Sixers have plenty of shooters and defenders to go along with the Simmons Embiid tandem, so I wouldn’t be shocked to see LeBron in Philadelphia next year.
Likelihood he signs: 6/10
Cleveland: James fulfilled his promise of bringing a championship to Cleveland. The Chosen One left after his first tenure to join the Heat in the south beach, but decided to come back. He teamed up with Kyrie Irving to bring the Larry O’Brien trophy to Ohio. Job done. That is why I doubt James goes back to Cleveland.
Kevin Love isn’t enough to get him to come back. Jordan Clarkson? J.R. Smith? LeBron could care less if he plays with them. The Cavs have a terrible salary situation and have almost no flexibility to acquire any substantial piece. Add that to the fact that the Cavaliers have repeatedly shown that they are sub-par franchise, I don’t think James wants to go back.
Likelihood he re-signs: 4/10
Los Angeles: No, not the Clippers. We are talking about the purple and gold here. Jerry West, Wilt the Stilt, Magic, Shaq, Kobe, and many more. Does the King want to end his reign with possibly the most prestigious franchise in the league? I think it is highly likely. LA has young talent and money to sign two max free agents. That means if they get LeBron they could also go after another big-time free agent, a la Paul George. If the Lakers end up getting either one, I think the other will follow. That create a very solid team ready to contend right away, mixing George / James with Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and Brandon Ingram. They still aren’t better than the Warriors, but one injury could potentially change that.
James has plenty of reasons to go to Los Angeles. Living the high-life out in California with his family, Getting Bronny Jr. to team up with the sons of Kenyon Martin and Scottie Pippen, all while competing for a championship? Why would he say no. The only reason I can think of is the fact that he wouldn’t want to deal with LaVar Ball.
Likelihood he signs: 8/10
-Jarrod Ribaudo (@Jribs53)