This summer will kick off the annual NBA free agent carousel. Once again, one man’s whereabouts will have an impact on how many teams go about the offseason. This man is the greatest player in the game and his name is LeBron James. For the third time in his career he will decide what franchise and city he wants to call home, presumably the place where he’ll end his career. His move will again alter the landscape of the NBA as we know it. According to multiple leaks and sources covering the NBA, LeBron will speak with each of these seven teams, with four of them seeming to be more probable destinations. Here we will break down the pros and the cons of LeBron James joining these four teams.
Pros: Northeast Ohio is where LeBron grew up and has called home for the majority of his career. His family is from their, he is extremely comfortable with the franchise as he is and will forever be the biggest sports star in the city of Cleveland. More so with Cleveland than with any of the other teams, he has the power to make front office decisions such as trades and free agent signings.
Cons: Out of all the teams listed, the Cavs by far have the worst supporting cast. Combining that with no cap space, players with untradeable contracts and no top 5 pick, there isn’t much for the Cavs to compliment LeBron with on the court. After the Warriors embarrassed them in 4 games, there’s almost no chance that this current Cavs team can win a championship even with LeBron. Now that he’s gotten them a championship, LeBron owes nothing to the city or the organization and if he truly wants to win another championship than Cleveland isn’t the place to be.
Pros: This season the Rockets got closer than anyone ever has to beating the Warriors. They had the Warriors on the ropes in games 6 and 7 and with a healthy Chris Paul, chances are there would be a parade in Houston instead of Oakland. If LeBron were to go Houston and the current nucleus was intact, they would be at least near-favorites to win the NBA championship. Unlike he did in Cleveland, LeBron would not have to carry as heavy a load on offense which could lead to him being more energized and rested throughout the season. Another interesting factor is LeBron’s relationship with Chris Paul. It has been known to the public that LeBron and Paul are extremely close as CP3 even began recruiting LeBron during the finals. A paring of these two would be nice for all those involved including the city of Houston.
Cons: The one major con with Houston is cap space. If there were to sign LeBron to a max contract, Houston would be forced to break up the big three of James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela, along with other pieces such as PJ Tucker and Eric Gordon. The Rockets barely have enough money as it is to sign those guys and adding LeBron would follow with multiple releases and trades. The other big problem with this is that during an NBA game there is only one basketball at a time. Most people were skeptical of how Paul and Harden would work together, because both are such ball-dominant players. Well LeBron is about as ball-dominant a player as they come, so the addition of him would lead to a major question of how the ball gets distributed between the three.
Pros: Out of the four most likely destinations, the 76ers offer the best young nucleus centered around LeBron. Joel Embiid will give LeBron a true center who is dominate, something he has never possessed through his career. Ben Simmons is a complete player who would allow James to play off the ball. The other big factor is that the Sixers play in the Eastern Conference, making for an easier path to the finals. Combining this with the core that is already in place, the Lebron lead 76ers would very likely reach the finals for the next couple of seasons, as James’s streak would continue, with also giving him a good chance at capturing his fourth NBA championship.
Cons: Over the course of his career, LeBron has been known to gravitate more towards experienced veterans rather than younger players, regardless of how good they may be. The rationale being that more experienced players do better when the playoffs come around and have a better understanding for the game. On top of that, no one knows how comfortable he’d be, if at all, with playing off the ball and having Simmons control the tempo more. If he isn’t willing to do either of these and wants to stay in his comfort zone, it’s a no for the City of Brotherly Love.
Los Angeles Lakers
Pros: For years there has been big speculation surrounding LeBron James and the Lakers. He currently owns a $23 million mansion near LA and it’s no secret the Lakers would love to have him. For the last couple years the Lakers have been rebuilding, stockpiling draft picks and gaining cap space. This leaves them with enough money to offer multiple max contracts, something none of the other teams can offer. Whether that means adding Paul George or possibly Klay Thompson next season the Lakers will have enough pieces to make them a title contender with LeBron. He would also be a great fit in the sense that the Lakers currently don’t have a star, ball-dominate point forward which again not all the other teams can say. The Lakers will allow Lebron to play in the second biggest market in the league while also allowing him to be the definite number-1 guy.
Cons: The biggest cons for the Lakers have to do with the team they currently have. While they were trending in the right direction towards the end of last season, they still only managed to win 29 games. While Lonzo Ball and the gang will get better, their inexperience should give LeBron some sort of level of concern. The other question mark involves cap space. While they have the cap space necessary to add other pieces there is no guarantee they can lure George, the only other superstar who may switch teams this summer. LeBron may not want to wait until his age 36 season to truly compete again when Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard and others become free agents. The only other white flag is that the Lakers are in the west. This will lead to Lebron having as tough of a road as ever to reach the finals, with the actual finals matchup possibly being an easier opponent than the one they had to face in the first round.