“Fans in LeBron James’ hometown of Akron burn his jersey in July after seeing their hopes torched when James announces he’s bolting Cleveland for Miami on ESPN’s “The Decision” (below). “by Pietro Masturzo licensed by Associated Press
From the decision to the moving truck outside his Miami home, Lebron’s impending free agency decision has never ceased to surprise. What will this year’s Summer bring for Lebron? Where will he end up?
BetOnline gives live odds of where Lebron is expected to go (or stay) this Summer.
Cleveland Cavaliers +125
After Lebron drudged through 82 games and 14 playoff games with an SNL spoof-worthy supporting cast, I doubt he stays. Brad Stevens has devised the paradigm of Lebron’s kryptonite, attacking him with endless youthful do-it-all wings and big men that masquerade as swiss army knives. Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, Terry Rozier, and Marcus Smart have outpowered Jordan Clarkson and company tremendously.
The Cavs don’t even have the cap space to make a run at potential game-changers like Demarcus Cousins and Paul George. They have their hands tied behind their back with deals like Jr. Smith’s 2 year/$30 million, George Hill’s 2 year/$37 million, Tristan Thompson’s 2 year/$36 million, Kevin Love’s 2 year/$50 million, and Jordan Clarkson’s 2 year/$25 million. That’s an unprecedented amount of overpaid scrubs on the Cavs roster. They will be paying the luxury tax, spending $139,521,659 on salaries next season and $101,659,473 in the following season. Paul George and Demarcus Cousins may as well be pipe dreams for Lebron if he resides in the land.
Keep in mind, Lebron accounted for about 25% of Cleveland’s points and assisted on about 40% of their baskets. In wins, his offensive rating is 118.7 and defensive rating is 107.3. In stark contrast, he scores 103.0 points per 100 possessions and allows 116.7 per 100 possessions in losses. Cleveland needs Lebron or the team will be getting the first pick three times in 5 years once again.
Houston Rockets +375
With every loss to the Celtics the odds are improving for him to gallivant to Houston, where Lebron can reach his goal of becoming a billionaire. Everything is bigger in Texas, except for income tax, which does not exist at all.
James Harden is a ball dominant guard akin James, but is still lethal off a pass from Chris Paul or potentially, Lebron James.
Houston fans love to point out the ‘banana boat crew’ which consists of Chris Paul, Lebron, Carmelo, and D-Wade. If he wants to go to Houston, the Daryl Morey will have to make some math moves. Ryan Anderson will have to be packaged with a first-round pick because his contract, 2 year/$41 million, is untradeable by itself. Tanking teams like the Nets, Bulls, or Suns should be willing to take in Anderson coupled with a first round pick.
Eric Gordon, human bowling ball, is paid $27.5 million over the next two years which really is a good deal. There will be plenty of prospective suitors for Gordon, a combo player that can flip between the 1 and the 2. He doesn’t need to be paired with a first-rounder. Teams like the Raptors, 76ers, and Pacers can use a shot creator like Eric Gordon.
P.J. Tucker, Nene, and Chinanu Onuaku would have to be traded as well. Considering these are rotation players on team-friendly deals, they will be relatively easy to rid of in a trade.
Nevertheless, Carmelo should be a sixth-man at this point in his career, producing 16.5 points and 5.8 rebounds on 40% shooting. If he is willing to sacrifice his ego for the Rockets and take the mid-level exception and come off the bench as a spark plug, he could team up with his brothers. Otherwise, he will be rotting away his career stealing nearly $28 million from a helpless OKC team.
Chris Paul is debatably still in his prime and finally made it to the Western Conference Finals, which was unattainable for the first 12 seasons of an otherwise distinguished career. Firing 6.5 threes a game, he is truly a flexible player nowadays able to play off the ball with relative ease.
Ultimately, Houston will have about $47 million between Lebron and Paul and the two will have to split it fairly. Surmising, Lebron would probably ask for $27 million and Paul $20 million.
Who wouldn’t want to see the Banana Boat Crew ball out in Houston?
Hey, maybe they can even get Chris Bosh on a veteran’s minimum deal.
Los Angeles Lakers +375
Imagine Lonzo elegantly running the ball up the court, quickly looking off a defender to Lebron James, lobbing it to Paul George, who rocks the rim in a sadistic manner.
Lakers fans around the world tweet about this everyday, they even have billboards at every street corner begging for Lebron to come to LA.
This seems like an unrealistic scenario. Bur remember; Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and Brandon Ingram are on rookie deals and Brook Lopez and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s contracts are expiring. The Lakers have seemingly aligned themselves to sign Lebron. Was there cap room configured so that Lebron could sign with them this offseason?
What Draymond Green is to Kevin Durant, Kuzma could be to Lebron. He passes well for a big man and does all the little things.
They only have one contract to get off the books which is Luol Deng, who is paid an unhealthy $36.8 million over the next two years. They’ll have to pair a 2019 or 2020 first round pick with him, since he can barely get off the bench these days.
Bringing a ball dominant forward in Lebron could stunt Brandon Ingram’s growth who, in the last 20 games, started to play a little point guard and looked a lot like Giannis Jr. Then again, he could be traded for Kawhi.
Either Paul George or Kawhi Leonard are locks to return their hometown. Kawhi Leonard even attended a Dodgers game over a Spurs elimination playoff game. Conspiracy theorists say he met with Magic in the Dodgers clubhouse and with all the weird Kawhi occurrences over the past year, I don’t call it out of question. Kawhi could be a Scottie Pippen to Lebron’s MJ.
Look at this potential lineup:
PG Lonzo Ball
SG Kawhi Leonard
SF Lebron James
PF Kyle Kuzma
C Rim Protector
I couldn’t think of a center, but nonetheless that’s a team that could compete (if not beat) the Warriors.
Some think it’s a pipe dream.
But wouldn’t Showtime 2.0 be exhilarating?
Philadelphia 76ers +375
Pairing Lebron with reincarnate Ben Simmons is a match made in heaven.
Or is it?
The NBA gods may be happy with the pairing, but will Lebron and Ben Simmons realistically be able to mesh?
We saw some tension between Lebron and D-Wade as the two fought for the ball. They even lost eight of their first 17 games together. Ultimately, D-Wade had to give up the alpha title to flourish with LBJ. It was an easy decision for him because he was 30 going on 31. Ben Simmons is 20 going on 21, not even entering the prime of his career. One has to wonder if Lebron, who is also a pass-first power forward, will hamper his development and create tension with Simmons.
Ben Simmons touches the ball 95% on the court, second in the league while Lebron trails in fifth at 87.1%. Time of possession also ranks Lebron at 8 with 7% and Ben Simmons at 10 with 6.8%. They like to isolate themselves at the top and have the offense flow through them.
I am just not sure about the fit in Philly.
Golden State Warriors +1000
I will stop watching the NBA and start watching women’s roller derby. Please Adam Silver don’t let this happen.
Los Angeles Clippers +1200
Copy and paste everything from the Lakers portion into this space because the Clippers are trying to do the same thing. Getting rid of Blake Griffin was important in clearing a ton of cap space for them, as he signed an enormous 5 year $171 million contract last July. Unfortunately, they have some trades to make if Lebron and other stars are to don red and blue.
Lou Williams, all-star snub, was signed to a reasonable deal towards the end of the season. Plenty of teams will be vying for the perennial sixth man of the year candidate who is a marksman from deep and can drop 20 points before you can say Sweet Lou. They might have to phone Gregg Popovich to trade for Boban Marjanovic, who has $7 million left on a one year deal. Steve Ballmer is hoping the Mavericks will be pushing for alley-oop afficiendado Deandre Jordan, who has a player option for $25 million next season. Contrary to popular belief, perpetually injured Danilo Gallinari is still playing in the NBA and is due about $44 million over two years. Getting rid of him could prove challenging not because he is not talented but because he can’t stay out of a walking boot. Coach’s son is still on the team and has a player option for $12 million. Despite obvious nepotism, I’d say he is a lock to play 30 worthless minutes of average basketball next season.
This team has so many moves to make and ultimately I don’t see Doc Rivers making all these moves to compete for Lebron James. But it’s been done before, let’s see if Doc pulls a 2007 offseason and lands two superstars.
The Miami Heat +1600
The Miami Heat are comprised of the most average NBA players signed to pretty much the same exact deal. Check out this list per HoopsHype.
|Hassan Whiteside||28||$23,775,506||$25,434,263||$27,093,018||Cap Space||$49,209,769|
|Goran Dragic||32||$17,000,450||$18,109,175||$19,217,900||Bird Rights||$35,109,625|
|James Johnson||31||$13,954,000||$14,651,700||$15,349,400||Cap space||$43,955,100|
|Dion Waiters||26||$11,000,000||$11,550,000||$12,100,000||$12,650,000||Cap space||$47,300,000|
|Kelly Olynyk||27||$10,607,169||$11,137,527||$11,667,885||$12,198,243||Cap space||$33,412,581|
|Tyler Johnson||26||$5,881,260||$19,245,370||$19,245,370||Cap Space||$25,126,630|
|Josh Richardson||24||$1,471,382||$9,300,000||$10,100,000||$10,800,000||$11,600,000||Minimum Salary||$31,671,382|
Knowing Pat Riley’s knack for signing “Heat for life”-type guys, Dwayne Wade will probably be signed for 1 year $7 million and Udonis Haslem will somehow be playing in his 16th year despite a 1.8 PER.
Do-it-all forward Justise Winslow will definitely break out next season, ask for a max contract and ultimately get it. The Heat will have another wing defender signed to a big contract and water is wet.
With that being said, I don’t discern “I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat,” to be in Lebron’s vocabulary this Summer.