It is that time of the year. LeBron James has his customary short contract up at the end of the season and it’s the NBA’s All-Star break. Time for every sports pundit in the world to press the self-destruct button for Cleveland and call for doomsday once again for LeBron’s impending departure. Admittedly, the drama happens every time his contract is up. But, let us speculate on the potential landing spots for LeBron James and where the NBA’s perennial best player could end up once this season is through.
Top 5 Landing Spots for LeBron James This Off-Season
Honorable Mention: Philadelphia 76ers
It’s no surprise LeBron James looks for talent. It is also the best-kept secret in the NBA that James is not getting any younger. Moving on to Philadelphia makes sense for James because of the young talent in the organization. Ben Simmons is turning out to be a monster, we know how great Joel Embiid is when he plays, and Markelle Fultz is not quite a lost cause yet.
There is going to come a time when LeBron James is not the best player on his team anymore, much less the best player in the NBA. Joining the best prospects in the NBA with Simmons and Embiid sets the weight of the team off of James more and more as he gets older and these two come into their own.
5. Los Angeles Lakers
When it comes to James leaving Cleveland, the Los Angeles Lakers is the name that is probably thrown around the most. The move would rival some movies in how all the pieces would fall. The Lakers, post-Kobe Bryant, are a bad team. Then arguably the greatest player to ever wear their jersey, Magic Johnson, becomes president of basketball operations. Now, it’s time for Magic to build a team around the best player out there, LeBron James. Paul George would join him, leaving Oklahoma City, and together they would win 4,652 championships.
The problem here is two-fold. First, Isaiah Thomas. Thomas was just traded from Cleveland for not being a good fit in the locker room. Get on the bad side of James and he will make sure to shadow over your entire career. Thomas, who is a free agent after this season, would have to go. Second is LaVar Ball. Does LeBron really want his shenanigans around his brand so LaVar could ride his coat tails?
4. New York Knicks
This one is all about the market. James is already the most popular player in the NBA right now. Moving to the largest city in the country makes fiscal sense for his brand. The Knicks organization has been dying to become relevant again. Adding LeBron James does that. Having Kristaps Porzingis is also another big reason LeBron could end up in New York next season.
Having that young talent is something James should be looking for to keep his career extended a few years without tarnishing it. While James and Enes Kanter have gotten into it a few times this season, I’m sure James and Kanter both know it’s all business and can put their differences aside to be teammates.
3. San Antonio Spurs
Full disclosure, I’m a Spurs fan. I will try my best to be objective here. How wild would it be to see the best player in the NBA team up with the best coach of all time? James has arguably never played for a great coach. Paul Silas, Mike Brown, Erik Spoelstra, David Blatt, and Tyronn Lue have all been made to look brilliant having the best player in the NBA on their team. I call that the Phil Jackson syndrome.
Greg Popovich, on the other hand, has made more than one hall-of-fame talent prosper, and continues to do so. To see such a great player in a tried and proven system is a mind teaser. Imagine James being on the same court as LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard! To further the flame of this, here’s a picture and a tweet:
Happy Bday Coach Pop!! One of the best to ever do(in my opinion thee best) and even more great guy! #Respect
— LeBron James (@KingJames) January 29, 2018
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
This is where the odds for James’ landing spot rises above 50%. Yes, this isn’t technically a landing spot because he’s already landed here, twice, but you can’t ignore the fact that Cleveland just did everything they could to make sure James has an incentive for staying. Immediately after the fire sale of their starting lineup before the trade deadline, the Cavs start playing really well together.
LeBron is also having to look at legacy at this point. He probably does not want to be seen as a team-hopper and ring chaser, something that we choose to forget about the end of Shaquille O’Neal‘s career. But, with Kevin Love at his side, I get the feeling LeBron James likes where he’s at in Cleveland. This would be the number one option but…
1. Houston Rockets
The banana boat shall sail once more. James has stated he wants to play with Chris Paul before they both retire. Now that Paul has a sidekick in James Harden, who is this year’s front-runner for MVP, Houston looks mighty fine for landing James. Having Paul, Harden, and James on the court at the same time is terrifying to think about.
The Warriors, who are currently in second place behind the Rockets in the west without LeBron James, would finally have a team that would be favored to beat them after signing Kevin Durant. Add in the coaching point from the Spurs argument as well. While Mike D’Antoni isn’t Greg Popovich, he has had experience with several superstars and MVPs (Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant). Also, Houston is the 4th biggest city in the country, making the market huge for James’ brand. All the pieces seem to already be in place for a LeBron James-Houston Rockets fairy tale. Will the glass shoe fit for the King? Houston is head-and-shoulders the clear best landing spot for LeBron James this summer.
It remains to be seen where LeBron James will end up this offseason. And there is A LOT of basketball to be played, including the playoffs. Where do you think LeBron James ends up this offseason?