The Great American Lebron James Road Trip
Lebron James, for third time in his career, is taking his talents...somewhere?
At least, we believe he is. He couldn't stay in Cleveland could he?
Let's take a look at some of the teams he could end up joining and whether, in my opinion at least, he should do so. It's a Lebron James road trip, but without the need for a gas card!
They say that home is where the heart is, right? For King James, Cleveland (or Akron...let's be honest, everyone outside of NE Ohio assume it's the same place) holds a special draw.
First, his wife and kids love the area. When he went to Miami the first time, his kids were young enough to alleviate some of the moving pains. This time around, they are old enough to make their opinions heard. Lebron might be the king of the NBA, but he's also a husband and father.
If Lebron were to stay, he would be deified in the Cleveland area. He'd stay for all the right reasons: family, charity, and continuity. These are the things that "The Land cherishes. There's a reason that Lebron was vilified when he left and immediately forgiven when he came back: the people of Cleveland honor loyalty above all.
Can he win another championship in Cleveland though? Could they flip J.R. Smith and George Hill, along with a draft pick or two into another superstar? It's unlikely. They don't have Danny Ainge running the ship, they have Dan Gilbert, the owner who fancies himself a GM.
On the other hand, they really don't need a third superstar. They need a consistent presence on the outside that can defend and hit open shots. Lebron, by himself, is two superstars. Despite what most people believe, Love is a legitimate superstar that can be the second best player on a championship team when his teammates are hitting open shots.
Were Lebron to stay, the Cavs would need to pull off a sign and trade for a Tyreke Evans type of player. To compete with Boston and Golden State in the upcoming year, you need depth, length, and consistent three point shooting. Can the Cavaliers pull something off? If they hope to keep Cleveland, they have to convince him that they can.
To be honest, I'm not a big fan of the Lebron to Houston idea. It's going to be difficult for Houston to get Lebron and keep the depth and outside shooting that put them in place to eliminate Golden State. If Chris Paul is healthy, this conversation might not have happened.
Imagine Houston, an isolation dominant team, against the Cavs in the finals. Lebron could have locked down Harden and possibly willed Cleveland to a win. It's unlikely, but they would have had a better chance against Houston than Golden State.
To pickup Lebron, Ariza and Capella have to go, along with a couple of other role-players. Houston would have to rely on their MLE and some creative accounting to put pieces around their big three. Does Houston want to do that?
Further more, if you were Mike D'antoni, would you want to do that? Remember, D'antoni values depth and flexibility above all. He is the coach that (rightly) was against bring Carmelo Anthony to New York because of what they would have to give up. In the end, the Melo in NY move ended up in failure and D'antoni took the blame for it.
Could Lebron join Houston? Yes...but should Houston want Lebron? In my opinion, they are an injured player away from the championship. You don't mess with that.
Philly's biggest selling point for Lebron is their youth and the talent of their roster. They have Embiid, who's positioned to become the best big man in the game, and Ben Simmons, who was projected to become a top five player in the NBA over the next few years before Boston exposed his lack of a jump-shot.
If Lebron joins the 76'ers, it's because he believes they can win now with what they have. They wouldn't be willing to give up their future to bring on Lebron, and would likely stand pat with what they have plus him. Is James content with their roster and potential to put himself in position to be the mentor this team needs?
It seems like a match made in heaven. There are some concerns with Philly though. First, Brett Brown was out-coached by Brad Stevens in every game during the NBA playoffs. Philly probably *should* have won that series, but Stevens turned out the best coaching job in recent memory.
Second, young players don't tend to have a consistent upward trajectory. Before a player hits 25, there are normally ups and downs. Ben Simmons might have been the rookie of the year, but does that mean he's going to develop into the superstar everyone is predicting he'll become? Maybe, but maybe not. Tyreke Evans never did. Michael Carter Williams? Remember Emeka Okafor?
To me, joining Philly means that he's leaving one uncertain situation for another.
I'm not gonna spend much time in Laker land. No disrespect to the Lakers, even though I'm a Celtics fan, but c'mon.
If you're Lebron, would you want to wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, checking Twitter to see if Lavar has something stupid to say? I wouldn't, and I'm far from the greatest basketball player of a generation.
If Lebron joins LA, it's because Paul George and Kawhi are on the way in while the Ball family are on the way out. If this scenario happens, it makes perfect sense. Otherwise, the Lakers are going to be in for another long season.
Remember earlier when I said that I'm a Celtics fan? Allow me to pitch the Celtics for you:
They are the only team in the East that's guaranteed to get better over time.
They already have three legit superstars and have the assets to acquire more talent.
Danny Ainge. Is there anything this guy can't do?
The best coach in the NBA not named Greg Popovich.
You won't have to worry about playing with Kyrie...we'll just flip him and some picks for Kawhi! Imagine a team that has Lebron, Kawhi, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris, Marcus Smart, and Terry Rozier.
That's the type of line-up that would keep Steve Kerr up at night.
I'm not saying Lebron will join the Celtics....I'm just saying that if he wants to beat Golden State and win three more rings, he should.