The Crossover Staff at SI.com put together an article of where Cleveland Cavs superstar LeBron James could sign over the summer of 2018, and they composed quite the lengthy list. Some make sense. Some make too much sense. Others seem unlikely, while one is never going to happen. I thought that I would take a point-counterpoint with their 10 possibilities, and let you know what I think about which NBA team will sign LeBron James after the 2018 NBA Finals when free agency begins.
1. San Antonio Spurs: “If you don’t want to play with Leonard and/or LaMarcus Aldridge, have no fear: they can be liquidated in trades. We’ve got a few shooters we can bring back in Danny Green and Patty Mills, and we’ll gladly welcome any additional veteran shooters you want to bring aboard. Rudy Gay has agreed to let you refer to him as ‘Jeff Green’ if you like. We’ve already shown we can scare Golden State in the playoffs, and we’re your most reliable bet for winning a ring with a third franchise, which would be a crowning accomplishment for your legacy. And, of course, to seal the deal: Remember that Pop has a cellar full of rare wine with your name on it.” — Ben Golliver
My take: It makes sense. Not as much as other teams, but LeBron has always loved Pop. I just don’t think that there is quite enough there to tempt him to sign with the Spurs. Depending on what happens with Kawhi Leonard, it could just become a similar situation with what he has in The Land.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers: “At the end of the day, it’s just not worth the headache to leave a place where he’s beloved so soon after his legacy has been fully repaired. For the sake of his sanity—and, potentially, his pullovers—LeBron should just stay at home.” — Mark Bechtel
My take: Believe it or not, James could remain in Cleveland, despite the looks he has been giving his teammates during the NBA Finals. He may not want to singe that bridge once again. He will, however, ask for much more help if he decides to stay with the Cavs.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: “Embiid and Simmons are obviously just beginning their superstar career arcs. As LeBron’s powers ultimately deteriorate—they have to wane at some point, right?—his younger co-stars will be fully blossoming at the opportune time to help transition James into a more-complementary role. It’s the best logical answer to this question. I don’t even know how this is a 10–team discussion.” — Jake Fischer
My take: It has long been rumored. It would be fun. It would be exciting. It would be great for the East. I just don’t think it will happen.
4. Miami Heat: “The Heat don’t have the cap space to sign LeBron outright let alone bring in another star. The roster has some useful role players (Kelly Olynyk, Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow), but also some onerous contracts (Tyler Johnson, and as much as it hurts me to say, Dion Waiters.) James could make any team in the East a Finals team, but the Heat would have to make some major moves to be a contender against the Warriors any time soon.” – Rohan Nadkarni
My take: Many people didn’t think that LBJ would return to the Cavs, citing the bad blood after he left. The same could be said of the Heat. Only this will not happen. No chance.
5. Los Angeles Lakers: “Next year, the Lakers could realistically (just play along) start a lineup of Lonzo Ball, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, James, and (fill-in-the-blank… Kyle Kuzma?), which would give him as good a title shot as either Houston or Philly. Concerning legacy, there’s only incremental benefit to dragging dreadful teammates to the Finals for the next five years, and critics of superteams will chirp no matter where LeBron goes.” – Ben Teitelbaum
My take: I get it. Hollywood. Magic Johnson. The Lake Show. It is alluring. But it would strictly depend on which other players were going to join him. I now see it as unlikely
6. Milwaukee Bucks: “As long as Giannis is around, the Bucks will never have a lottery pick to land a top young star and it’s difficult to foresee a top free agent choosing Milwaukee. But LeBron might not care about playing in the coolest city with the best nightlife at this point in his career. He’s a dad in his 30s who likes drinking wine while watching hoops at home. But he’s also in the somewhat unique position of wanting to win more championships while also seeking a challenge that will allow him to showcase his greatness. Milwaukee is that kind of place”. — Dan Gartland
My take: Great thought. Great argument. Not happening. Sorry.
7. New York Knicks: “Well, actually there aren’t that many reasons, there are just two reasons that come to mind. The first, and biggest, is Kristaps Porzingis. LeBron can kick back with some red wine and Sbarro pizza and age comfortably as the Knicks’ basketball unicorn—still just 22—shoulders a lot of the load on offense. Think of the freaking alley-oops these two would connect on! And, aside from having two guys to create offense, the duo would surely be able to attract a star or a couple of fringe stars to fill in some of that sweet, sweet cap space New York has. LeBron, Kawhi and Godzingis doesn’t sound too bad. The other reason LeBron should definitely choose New York is to get back at Phil Jackson. Could you imagine LeBron not only leading the Knicks to their first title since 1973, but leading them to multiple championships? That’d be the absolute best revenge on Phil. Maybe he can bring back Melo, too, to add insult to injury. No one would even remember Phil, to be honest.” — Kenny Ducey
My take: Thanks for the laughs. Next.
8. Houston Rockets: “Houston wouldn’t even have to change its style, though it could; with LeBron comes the flexibility not only to play in a wide variety fo ways, but to dominate through them. As it stands, James is a terrifying isolation scorer, a pinpoint passer, and a certified switch-buster—a player so strong and so dynamic as to invalidate the defense of choice against the Rockets. The freedom to use any of three stars on either side of the pick-and-roll—and that’s without even considering the ascendant Clint Capela—would put every opponent into an impossible bind. Creating enough room for James would demand some creative problem solving on Houston’s part, but the result would be well worth the trouble”. — Rob Mahoney
My take: Ultimately, if James is going to opt out of Cleveland, and especially if he is going to sign with a Western Conference team for the first time, this is it. He has friends in Houston and instantly would make the Rockets the favorites to win the 2019 NBA Championship.
9. Boston Celtics: “I’d love to see how Brad Stevens and LeBron would work together, and it would also be kind of funny to watch the first press conference when Kyrie is asked, “So you requested a trade because you didn’t want to play with LeBron, and now LeBron has come to you. Thoughts?” He’d be like, “All I can say is that you don’t expect what comes around to go around when you believe the earth is flat. Life comes at you fast.” — Charlotte Wilder
My take: LeBron has always said he loves beating Boston. He doesn’t like this team. Period. But that has never stopped former Red Sox players from leaving Boston to go play for the New York Yankees. I don’t see him playing with Kyrie Irving again, but this would be interesting. I just don’t see it taking place.
10. Golden State Warriors: “Lastly, LeBron has ties in the Bay Area. He would feel right at home in Silicon Valley within the billionaire community and he played AAU basketball with the Oakland Soldiers program. To quote Michael Caine in The Dark Knight, “Some men just want to watch the world burn.” — Jarrel Harris
My take: It really would be the end of the NBA. Golden State could plan another ticker-tape parade now and schedule it for some time next June. Then again, talk about going to a place where James would not have to play every minute of every game. He could take quite a few breaks.
Finally, Mitch Golditch suggested that the King take a year off from the NBA. Fun thought – at least for all of the teams that don’t sign him this summer – but not an option.