LeBron James just executed one of the most dominant postseasons in recent memory, but it wasn’t enough to lead the Cavaliers past the Warriors in the NBA Finals.
James, who has the ability to utilize a player option in his contract and become a free agent, is believed to be ready to move on from Cleveland. The Ohio native brought a championship to the Cavaliers in his second stint with the team, but it appears he may end his career in a different jersey.
Here are three fits for James this offseason and three teams to avoid:
76ers — The nucleus of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Dario Saric lacks just one thing: experience. Few teams have more young talent than the 76ers (and they could have had Jayson Tatum, too), which makes Philadelphia an enticing challenge for James. Now at the latter stages of his career, James needs to help the team grow.
Philadelphia can shed players such as J.J. Redick, Ersan Ilyasova, Amir Johnson and Marco Belinelli to make room for James and start him with a clean slate. Markelle Fultz should improve in Year 2, so James’ addition would give the 76ers a roster worthy of a Finals run.
Jazz — Donovan Mitchell became one of the most entertaining players in the league as a rookie this season, and Utah has a number of intriguing players surrounding him. In Utah, James could stop the Warriors before they even reached the NBA Finals, getting payback with a young squad hungry for success. Mitchell and James’ games could clash a bit — neither are pure shooters — but it’s a situation worth exploring.
Trail Blazers — Another team on the brink of postseason relevance, Portland really needs a physical presence who can take over games. The Trail Blazers have a great guard duo in CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard, but it needs another option to topple the likes of Golden State and Houston.
James would instantly give the Trail Blazers the rebounding presence and late-game scorer they sorely lack. Depending on how aggressive Portland wants to be, they could then target DeMarcus Cousins to really build a squad to scare the Warriors.
Warriors — This rumor is just ridiculous. The Warriors have won three of the last four NBA championships, finishing runner up to James’ Cavaliers the other year. The NBA doesn’t need this move, and fans should be disgusted by it. Unless the Warriors are getting rid of Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, this move makes no sense.
If James chooses to sign with the Warriors, and they keep their current starting lineup, then any championships they win should come with an asterisk on their resumes because the rest of the league would have no chance. The last four NBA Finals have been played by the same two teams. The league needs more intrigue, not one superpower.
Rockets — James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant all became too good for the same jersey in Oklahoma City, as there weren’t enough shots to go around. What makes Chris Paul — assuming he re-signs with Houston — Harden and James any different?
Houston might be a piece or two away from defeating the Warriors, but that piece is not James. Until they add a second basketball to the equation, guys like James and Harden have no business playing on the same team.
Celtics — Kyrie Irving and James didn’t exactly leave on the best terms, and James has continued taking small jabs at Irving even after his move to Boston. If the two couldn’t get along in Cleveland there’s no reason to believe a uniform change would fix their chemistry.
James has limited years left in the league and he doesn’t need to waste one with drama and yet another failed championship bid.
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