This past Friday LeBron James declined his player option with the Cleveland Cavaliers thus making him a free agent. This was something just about everyone saw coming after the Cavs were swept in the NBA Finals by the Golden State Warriors. With the best basketball player on the planet now on the market, the big question is, where will he go? Here are a few teams King James could find himself on at the start of next season.
Even though he declined his player option LeBron could still return to “The Land”. This would mean LeBron would get a new contract from the Cavaliers which would basically set him for the rest of his career. LeBron means the world to the city of Cleveland from a social, symbolic and financial standpoint. If LeBron goes back there will need to be some serious remodeling of the roster. The Cavaliers struggled to find their groove during the regular season and all through the playoffs. Even though they reached the Finals, if it wasn’t for LeBron playing at a superhuman level the Cavs may have lost to either the Pacers or Celtics in the playoffs. The one big thing the Cavs have over the other LeBron suitors is that they can offer him the most money if he chooses to re-sign with them. As long as LeBron stays with the Cavs, the road to the finals in the east goes through Cleveland.
Los Angeles Lakers
The place everyone thinks LeBron is going to choose is the Los Angeles Lakers. LeBron to the Lakers has been an on-going thing since he left Cleveland the first time. However, now the Lakers are in a prime position to acquire the King. The Lakers, in fact, are in play for not only LeBron but also Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. PG-13 also opted out of his player option with the Oklahoma City Thunder making him a free agent. Kawhi Leonard has said he wants to be traded from San Antonio. Acquiring either of those two could be just the selling point the Lakers need in bringing in LeBron. Not to mention the Lakers have a plethora of promising young talent in Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and Julius Randle (if they re-sign him) to pair alongside him. Outside of that there are other factors that may suggest LeBron is going to California. He has a home there and his kids go to school there. With an already Hall of Fame resume, imagine what it would do for LeBron’s legacy if he could bring one of the most storied NBA franchises back to the promise land.
“The Process” is almost 100% complete as the Sixers have proven they are a worthy contender in the Eastern Conference. Last season the team, led by Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, won 52 games. This includes a 16 game winning streak the team went on to end the season propelling them to the 3 seed in the East. Add to that the fact that their lottery pick Markelle Fultz missed almost the entire season and one could say the Sixers are one piece away from championship glory. The thing standing in Philly’s way however, is cap room. Philadelphia only has $26M in available cap space while LeBron has a $35M salary. They would have to trade away some of their lower contracts to make the available room for James.
The Rockets may have one of the lowest chances out of all the major players in the LeBron sweepstakes. The team is already a championship contender. Remember, they were moments away from beating the Warriors and many will argue that if Chris Paul didn’t get hurt in game 5, the Rockets would’ve been in the Finals. Even James Harden made it clear in his interview after receiving the MVP award that he felt the team was fine the way it was and didn’t think they needed anyone else. Standing in the way also is CP3. Even though CP3 and LeBron are very close off the court, Paul has made it clear he wants to get paid max money. This basically takes signing King James as a free agent off the table for Houston as they won’t have the available cap space. The only way they would be able to acquire LeBron is via a sign and trade deal which would’ve been easier if LeBron opted into his player option with Cleveland. However, Cleveland would most likely want pieces that Houston wouldn’t want to give up (i.e. Clint Capella and Eric Gordon).