If you’re a fan of the NBA, you’re likely keeping an eye on all news LeBron James related right now. There’s a serious chance he’s leaving Cleveland this offseason for a destination that has yet to be determined. Rumors are going around like crazy. You’ve got the Paul George going to L.A. rumors, combined with him saying he likes playing with LeBron James. Tell me that doesn’t make you think LeBron’s going to the Lakers. Then you’ve got things like Gregg Popovich wanting to meet with LeBron and LeBron being willing to meeting with the Warriors. So many rumors about various destinations makes it hard to put your finger on it. After the NBA Finals, several sites put out odds for which team LeBron would sign with this offseason. Below is a general feel for how each of the top teams ranked. I saw a few sites that included the Knicks, Heat, and Clippers, but I don’t feel like they’ve got a realistic shot at getting LeBron. I’ve listed the Lakers, 76ers, Rockets, Cavaliers, Spurs, Celtics, and Warriors as the most realistic landing spots for LeBron. For each destination, I’ve listed the pros and cons for LeBron if he chooses to sign there.
Pros: LeBron has a second home in L.A., so joining the Lakers would make him feel right at home. The chances of Paul George joining the Lakers seem pretty good, especially if LeBron goes here. Having Paul George would give LeBron some much-needed help on both sides of the ball. It’s also been rumored that LeBron and Chris Paul could team up here, which would also give LeBron some needed help. If Chris Paul and Paul George somehow both join the Lakers, that’s probably the biggest pro of them all. There are some ifs with this destination, but the thought of them becoming reality is good enough to make them a pro.
Cons: Probably the biggest con to signing with the Lakers is LaVar Ball. With all the stuff LeBron has to deal with already, do you really think he wants to deal with LaVar? I don’t think so. This Lakers team is pretty young, although LeBron has said he’s high on the young players, specifically Lonzo Ball. This group will get better over time, but right now they haven’t proven they can be a real threat to the league. LeBron would get them to the playoffs, but how much better would LeBron’s supporting cast be than what he has in Cleveland right now (If neither Chris Paul or Paul George sign here)? I really don’t think they’re that much better, if better at all.
Pros: Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are two of the NBA’s best young stars. This 76ers team is obviously on the rise. With Simmons and Embiid on his team, LeBron would have a lighter load. He’d have some much-needed help. Embiid is a very good inside scorer and all-around presence, which is something LeBron doesn’t have in Cleveland. Kevin Love can score inside, but to me, it seems like he’s outside more than inside. I wouldn’t really call Love a presence inside. Simmons has a similar game to LeBron, who has said he thinks the young 76ers star can be better than him. Simmons had a LeBron type impact on his team last season, but to a much less degree. Let’s call him a poor man’s LeBron at this point. He can do LeBron like things with his all-around game, but he’s not on the LeBron James level yet. This team also has a pretty good supporting cast. LeBron not only needs stars to help him out, he needs a good bunch of role players as well.
Cons: In the pros, I noted that LeBron would have Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons as his help. While it can be a pro, I can also see it as a con. LeBron is best when he has shooters surrounding him. Ben Simmons hasn’t developed his shooting yet. Joel Embiid seems to like to take three-point shots, but he only shot about 30% from three-point range last season, so he should probably stick to inside shooting. I have no doubt this team would be good with LeBron James on it, but when I think about who LeBron needs on his team to beat the Warriors, it’s not Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
Pros: James Harden is likely going to be the league MVP this season, so that’s always a plus. If LeBron goes to the Rockets, I’m pretty sure Chris Paul is coming back. James Harden, Chris Paul, and LeBron James sounds like a good combination to me. Many people thought it wouldn’t work last season with Harden and Paul because they’re both ball handlers, but it worked out just fine. Being one game away from the NBA Finals is pretty dang good. I’m sure D’Antoni would be able to figure this one out too. With Harden and Paul, LeBron would be getting a couple of good shooters, a probable league MVP, and a very good defender in Chris Paul.
Cons: If LeBron does sign with the Rockets, will they have to gut their team? Will they be able to re-sign Clint Capela? Trevor Ariza? If they did sign Chris Paul along with James, it would make it very difficult. Another big con of being on this team is James Harden in the playoffs. Harden is a great player in the regular season, but I’ve seen Harden disappear in playoff games too many times. That’s not what LeBron James needs. LeBron is used to seeing his teammates disappear in playoff games, especially after this season, and I don’t think he wants any more of it. Chris Paul did everything he could to carry the Rockets. Unfortunately, he got hurt and then Harden did nothing. LeBron can’t have that.
Pros: This is LeBron’s team. This is LeBron’s city. Nobody else can impact Cleveland like LeBron James can. LeBron staying will give every Cavaliers fan hope. I think LeBron is comfortable being in Cleveland because it’s where his family is. Even though he hasn’t won multiple championships in Cleveland, LeBron has had more success here than anyone could ever ask for. He fulfilled his promise to bring a championship to the city of Cleveland, which has to be one of his greatest memories. Maybe the thought of possibly doing it again for his city will be enough to keep him playing at the highest level for the rest of his career.
Cons: LeBron James got no help in the NBA Finals. LeBron said this past season felt like one of the longest of his career. The Cavs had all sorts of problems throughout the season. Do you really think LeBron wants to go through that again next year? There’s more talk about the Cavs making trades too. We know LeBron can lead a team regardless of who he has, but some consistency would be nice. I don’t think LeBron wants to go through the first half of next season wondering if any of his teammates are going to be there for the second half of it. LeBron has no help here. I’ve already stated that I don’t think LeBron will win another championship if he stays in Cleveland unless he can recruit guys to go there with him. The likelihood of that happening though is slim.
Pros: One of the biggest pros of joining the Spurs is getting to be coached by one of the greatest coaches of all time. LeBron seems to have a good relationship with Gregg Popovich, which is always a good thing to have with your head coach. Popovich does a nice job with whoever he has on his team. He didn’t have Kawhi Leonard for most of last season and he did very well without him. I’m sure he could do some nice work with LeBron. LaMarcus Aldridge is playing at a high level right now. He’s a great scoring big man who carried the Spurs last season. Despite all the unknowns with Kawhi Leonard, I’m going to assume he’s going to be here. When he’s healthy, Kawhi Leonard is one of the best two-way players in the league. He can guard pretty much anyone on the defensive end. On the offensive end, he can create his own shot and create for others. LeBron would have a couple of stars to play with who are capable of carrying the team at any given time. He would also have some additional playmakers in Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, who despite being older can still get it done.
Cons: I should have mentioned this next con when talking about the Lakers and Rockets also. If LeBron joins the Spurs, he’s going to be in the Western Conference. We all know the Western Conference is more competitive than the Eastern Conference. It’s been that way for a while now. This would create a more challenging road to the NBA Finals for LeBron James, especially because he’d have to go through the Warriors to get there. The biggest challenge would come before the NBA Finals instead of in the NBA Finals. I’m not saying he couldn’t do it, but it would make it tougher. Another con, one I should have mentioned with players like Chris Paul, is the injury issue. It seems like Kawhi Leonard is hurt at some point in every season. It could be during the regular season or it could be during the playoffs, maybe even both. He’s likely going to be out at some point, so it’s a risk LeBron would have to take. It’s definitely possible LeBron would have to carry a heavier load during playoff time if Kawhi’s body can’t hold up.
Pros: This Celtics team has a young core of rising stars. Terry Rozier stepped up big time, Jaylen Brown improved a lot throughout the season, and Jayson Tatum looks like he’s on the path to being a superstar. This was a team who almost unseated LeBron James as King of the Eastern Conference, and they did that without two of their star players. Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward were both injured during the Celtics playoff run. They’ll both be coming back healthy next season, which will give this Celtics roster some serious star power. Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, and Al Horford in the starting lineup. If you throw LeBron in there, someone has to move to the bench. I’d say it’d probably be Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum because they’re both younger players. That move only strengthens the bench. Regardless of who it is, they’d have Terry Rozier coming off the bench with them, giving them a great second unit in addition to a star-studded starting five. You think LeBron could carry that team to the Finals? The answer is yes.
Cons: Kyrie Irving was traded to the Celtics before last season because he no longer wanted to play with LeBron James. Irving wanted to be the star of his team, getting out of LeBron’s shadow. If LeBron came to Boston, this team would be very good, like they were when the two stars played together in Cleveland. Although they’d be good, I can see various problems arising with Irving. There doesn’t seem to be any bad blood between the two players, but if LeBron comes here, what Irving wanted gets taken away. It’s natural for all of us to be at least a little upset when what we want gets taken away. I’m not sure how big the problems will be, but there will be problems. It could be as little as Irving being unhappy and not saying anything about it, but it could be as big as Irving being outspoken about being unhappy and causing more drama, which is the last thing LeBron James needs.
Pros: Being on the team who’s won three championships in the last four years? Sounds pretty good. If the Warriors really want LeBron James, they’ll have to make some moves. I think they’re willing to make those moves. If they really are willing to make the moves to get LeBron, LeBron should join the Warriors if he wants to win more championships. I’m not saying he won’t win a championship anywhere else, but being on the Warriors would certainly give him the best chance. LeBron needs to find some help wherever he goes. Having two teammates who have both been league MVPs sounds like some pretty good help to me.
Cons: Remember when LeBron left Cleveland the first time to join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh? He became the super villain of the NBA. Does LeBron want that to happen again? If he joins the Warriors he will be the villain. Joining this team would also give people a lot to say about LeBron’s legacy. LeBron would be taking the easy road to a championship. If for whatever reason the Warriors didn’t win a championship with LeBron James on the team, the infinite amount of hate and criticism LeBron already receives would only increase, if that’s even possible.