Where the King Goes Next
This summer the King of the National Basketball Association is once again a free agent. While rumors continue to swirl about where Lebron James may end up for the 2018-19 season, anyone who tells you they have any idea where he will “take his talents”, they are lying. With that being said, here is my list of the five best fits for Lebron, and the reasons I believe he will consider these landing spots.
5. The Chicago Bulls
I know what you’re thinking: Why would Lebron ever join the Bulls? Well I am here to tell you there are a bunch of reason why this far-fetched idea may not be so crazy. First off, everyone knows Lebron wants to take his talents to a big city where he can continue to grow his brand and maximize his endorsements. Look no further than the Windy City, a place where Michael Jordan turned the Bulls into a worldwide brand. Also, Lebron wants to play for a team that has flexibility. The Bulls go into the 2018-19 season with the most salary cap space of any team in the NBA, giving them the ability to offer Lebron a chance to bring another max contract player with him. Finally, let us not forget, Lebron has spoken highly all season about Lauri Markkanen, and with the Bulls set to have another high draft pick, if they could add a player like Trae Young, who Lebron has publicly endorsed, a young nucleus paired with huge cap flexibility could make the Bulls a team Lebron would at least take an interview with.
4. The San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are a team Lebron has envied for over a decade. While James struggled to win playoff series during his first stint in Cleveland, he watched the Spurs win multiple titles and maximize talent due to elite coaching. Greg Popovich has frequently spoken about how much he adores Lebron’s game, and the two still maintain a very solid relationship since Pop coached James for the United States national team. The Spurs also have Kawhi Leonard, a player with a very similar style to James, and someone who when paired with the king could create problem for the rest of the league. Lebron has struggled to find a coach to bring the best out of him and his teammates, but Pop could be the perfect leader to put aside James’ ego and teach him what it takes to be great as his physical talents begin to dwindle. Let’s not forget, Popovich’s coaching style has excelled with aging stars such as Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili.
3. The Los Angeles Lakers
I know what you’re thinking, only 3rd? Personally, I am not sold that the Lakers are truly a front runner to land the star from the “Land” this summer. First off, the Lakers have some terrible contracts they need to get off their books. Although they were able to dump their pathetic Timofey Mozgov deal this summer by giving the Nets Deangelo Russell, many don’t know that the Lakers are still paying Luol Deng… Yeah remember him? The guy who was kind of decent back in 2012? Deng signed a four-year, $72 million deal with the Purple and Gold in July 2016. That painfully bad deal has left the Lakers in a bit of cap trouble. I know the rumors are out there that the Lakers could also add Paul George, but that would require a lot of dealing by the Lakers to dump salaries, likely similar to the trade they made giving up a young talented Russell just to discard their mistakes. A second reason Lebron may be iffy about joining the Lakers? Lavar Ball. Yup, I said it. Lebron has dealt with bullshit year after year since leaving Miami where he came up jussst short of his “not five, not six rings”. I don’t think James truly wants to deal with the worldwide distraction that is Lavar Ball. At this point I think James wants to cut out as many distractions as possible and focus on building his jewelry collection. Unless the Lakers can find a way for Lavar to become as dried up a subject as Luol Deng, I think the Lakers are a bit of a long shot to land the “Chosen One”. With that being said, I wouldn’t be surprised in 3-4 years from now James would again consider the Laker to truly finish his career and ride off into the majestic LA sunsets.
2. The Houston Rockets
The Rockets have already established themselves as a championship contender in the NBA, with two of the league’s elite players; Chris Paul and James Harden. The Rockets also have plethora of elite role players such as Eric Gordon and Clint Capela. Although if Lebron were to take his talents to the lone star state he may not be dominating the ball as much as he is accustomed to, he would get to play with his close friend and banana boat brother, Paul. The Rockets also have a very flexible cap going into the summer and if Paul, who is also a FA this summer, is willing to take a slight pay cut to play with James, the Rockets would have no issue signing both. There is no doubt that Lebron will have a close eye on this year’s Western Conference Finals to see how the Rockets stack up with his kryptonite, the Golden State Warriors.
1. The Philadelphia 76ers
Just one year ago who would have thought the 76ers would be a viable option for the NBA’s best player. Able to finally get their talented youngsters on the court, the 76ers have as much upside as any team in the league. Not only with elite young talent, the Sixers have a load of cap room this offseason due to the fact their best players Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are still on their rookie deals. Also, James and Simmons, this year’s likely rookie of the year have been close friends for years. Before entering the 2017 draft, Simmons signed with Rich Paul, James’ agent and childhood friend. The Sixers also have the ability to trade their latest high draft pick Markelle Fultz and their future first round pick from the Lakers in order to acquire another established all-star caliber player to pair with James, Embiid, and Simmons. If I were to go to the window today, I believe Lebron will shock many and sign a deal with the 76ers this offseason.
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