With the trade deadline complete, speculation continues to run rampant about what will happen in the offseason. Where will LeBron go? Will he return to the Cavs? Will he go to LA?
At this point, it seems as though there may still be a sliver of hope for LeBron staying in Cleveland, but realistically, the relationship between LeBron and owner Dan Gilbert seems irreparably damaged. Some think LeBron could be headed to Houston to team up with Chris Paul and James Harden to form a real challenge for the Warriors. Perhaps Houston has enough this year to push GState without LeBron, but with LeBron, they’d be neck and neck… at least on paper. It’s tough to have so many ball dominant players on the same team and when it comes to teams who have multiple alpha dogs who need the ball, LeBron becomes the alpha of all alphas.
What makes more sense, and as a result seems more likely, is that LeBron decides that the East is still the weaker conference, and barring a playoff restructuring by the NBA, the path to the NBA finals is still easier coming from the Eastern Conference. Enter the Philadelphia 76ers. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are a talented duo and the Sixers are likely to get even better with the addition of the Lakers pick (unless it’s between 2-5 this year), or even more interesting, if they package that and a couple of other assets to bring in a solid piece. The other thing the Sixers could do, is sign LeBron James to anchor them. LeBron would not need to shoulder the load as he had in the past, but would instantly become the alpha for the team and would likely not clash with Embiid in terms of playing style, but in fact might complement him. The Sixers are projected to have a shade over $30 million in cap space so the money could be right to land LeBron and LeBron moving from the Cavs means that Toronto and Boston would be the only real threats. While the Raptors have done a good job of mixing their vets with younger pieces, their best pieces are still aging and their window may be very small. Boston is a bigger problem for LeBron with the Celts being one of the youngest teams in the league and still being one of the best. They’ll also be getting back Gordon Hayward and will have another year of experience for Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. They’ll also still have Kyrie Irving in his prime. With that core, the Celtics are the only other team that could reasonably contend in the East with LeBron in Philly (barring a huge step forward from teams like the Bucks). So while changing teams is never easy, I expect LeBron to take his time, but at the end of the day, decide he’d like nothing more than a future with some Philly Cheesesteaks.