LeBron James has declined the final year of his enormous contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers and will become an unrestricted free agent when the NBA clock strikes July, mere hours from now. Technically speaking, that means King James can sign anywhere he wants to. Some teams are better-positioned to nab him than others, and only two franchises are rumored as viable suitors. Still, because of a little loophole in salary cap rules, LeBron could join up with any team as long as he’s willing to accept a veteran’s minimum salary.
That scenario is implausible to the extreme, but hey, Michael Jordan left the NBA altogether to play minor-league baseball, right? Pretending for a moment that all 30 franchises are in play, I’ll share three places I’d love to see LeBron land and why.
First of all, if you’re hoping to hear the Los Angeles Lakers, go ahead and dunk yourself off a briny pier. Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to see a return to the days when we can hate L.A. They’ve been so pathetic lately that there’s no juice in the rivalry at all. LeBron wouldn’t restore that enmity, though. He’d become a rent-a-star...annoying, but not inspiring. It’d be like missing your favorite childhood pizza, then trying to replace it with 92 boxes of Pizza Hut take-out. Yeah, that’s a lot of pizza, but the spirit just isn’t the same.
If you want a return to Cleveland, you can stay on the pier but I’m still not with you. That’s not exciting and they haven’t done anything much with him lately. If you dare suggest the Warriors, just go follow Lacrosse or something.
No, if you want satisfaction and a shake-up, check out these possibilities.
WHAT??? Yeah, I said it. No franchise in the universe is in such a sorry state of affairs. From being jilted by unsuitable superstars (“It wasn’t us, DeMarcus, it was you. But we wanted you to stay anyway!”) to blowing draft picks to almost moving out of town, Sacramento is just sad. LeBron is a one-man NBA Finals machine. I’d love to see if he could do it one more time...or just get close. No smoke, no mirrors, just the archetypal All-Time, All-Universe player summoning the days of yore when he could take literally ANYONE on his back and lead them to glory. One of the worst tickets in the league would suddenly become a night you didn’t want to miss because of a single player. That’s the way it should be with superstars. The Warriors would still reign supreme in the West, but with an injury or two...
The Bucks don’t really need LeBron. The Bucks can’t actually afford LeBron. But the storyline of old hotness meets new hotness (in the form of Giannis Antetokounmpo) is nearly irresistible. LeBron is like a fortress, an indomitable wall behind which his team shelters. Giannis is the ultimate next-gen weapon. Sure they both play power forward right now, but that’s part of the fun. Isn’t “positionless basketball” the new thing, with the mantra of, “They’re just players!” ringing through clearly? Want to test it, watching 82 games of amazing in the process? Let these two superheroes join forces. I would tune in every night.
Of the conventional choices, none is quite so appealing as the Sixers. They combine a franchise on the rise with enough talent to justify the transformation into Super Team. LeBron and Joel Embiid would become an instant Odd Couple. Throw in a couple athletes, a couple shooters, and who knows what could happen?
Those are my choices. If you could pick a team for LeBron to join, who would you pick? If we wanted to be on the nose, we could all make a case for the Trail Blazers, but if you do so, offer justification beyond, “They’re my team!” Why would you want to see James in that uniform, or any other? Register your opinion below!