Here we are again. The entire sporting world is on edge as LeBron James decides the next place that he will “take his talents.” The possibilities are truly endless and it has the minds of basketball fans spinning. At the same time, while there are 30 potential suitors for King James, how many can truly be considered to be contenders for his signature. Would any sane person be able to convince you that he’s going to be suiting up for the Timberwolves or the Bucks next year? Absolutely not. While there will be numerous factors going into James’ decision, it should be obvious that we can eliminate a huge chuck of teams. Now this is the fun part. This is the part where we can break down every team that has an actual chance to get him, however small that chance might be. Will LeBron choose to go join another superstar or will he decide to pair up with Carmelo Anthony, who also opted out of his contract, like he did with Chris Bosh back in the summer of 2010? Let’s dive into the top 10 potential landing spots for LBJ.
10. Golden State Warriors
How awesome would it be to see James line up beside Stephen Curry every night? (expect to see this in each paragraph, as we fantasize about the incredible superstar team-up options). Golden State has been a team on the cusp in the last two seasons, with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and David Lee. They tried to add Andre Iguodala last season to get over the hump, but still found themselves going home early. As the least known California team (in competition with the Sacramento Kings), how huge would this be for the franchise? They’ve been flirting with the idea of trading for Kevin Love, and if they could somehow do that and sign James, they’d have a formidable big 3 of James, Curry and Love. Is this a bit of a pipe dream? Yes, but anything is possible in the NBA.
9. New York Knicks
Let’s chalk this one up to the big city appeal. When LeBron left Cleveland, he wanted to make his mark in a big market. What market is bigger than New York? With Carmelo Anthony opting out, they have the cap room to make this happen. At the same time, with Carmelo leaving, that means that the Knicks don’t have a team built to win. I highly doubt that LeBron would want to play with an overweight Raymond Felton and Andrea Bargnani. With Phil Jackson at the helm, I would never say never, but unless they can convince James that they can be competitive, this is a possible, but highly unlikely option for him.
8. Phoenix Suns
The Suns shocked everyone last year. They very nearly snuck into the playoffs by putting up an impressive 48 wins in the more difficult Western Conference. With a nice core of youngsters, including Eric Bledsoe, a superstar acquisition like James would really help put them over the top. Unlike other teams with established superstars, the Suns aren’t up against the cap and could offer him a maximum contract with only the Heat being able to offer more. This isn’t a likely destination again, but since they have a well respected coach, they might be able to sway James on their franchise.
7. Houston Rockets
They are a team known to make big moves, so why wouldn’t they appear on this list? Last year they acquired Dwight Howard and the year before that they acquired James Harden. What’s missing from the NBA Championship formula? Another elite player to form a “big 3.” While Chandler Parsons proved to be extremely valuable, he might be more valuable as a number 4 or as trade bait to make some cap room for James. While Houston would have to move around a lot of pieces to make this happen, I wouldn’t put it past them to at least try. And a core of Harden, James and Howard would be incredibly hard to stop.
6. Los Angeles Clippers
This is a team who’s trying to emerge from a nasty racial scandal involving their owner, Donald Sterling. What better way is there to endear themselves to fans than acquiring LeBron James? A big 3 of Paul, James and Griffin would be lethal, but they’d have to move a few other pieces to make it possible. LeBron James is also a known admirer of their coach Doc Rivers, which might facilitate a move. However, few players were more vocal in their disdain for Sterling, so that might make this union an impossible one.
5. Dallas Mavericks
If Mark Cuban could give one last present to Dirk Nowitzki, he’d probably choose to give him a couple years beside LeBron James. Ever since their Championship win, at the expense of James, the Mavericks have been nowhere near championship level. This isn’t Dirk’s fault, as he hasn’t been afforded much help. If they could sign LeBron and add some solid players around them, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine James and Nowitzki tearing up the league. With a bold owner, this one is more possible than anyone is letting on. It’ll take some maneuvering, but when a player like James is on the market, every team should be trying to accommodate him.
4. Los Angeles Lakers
Kobe and LeBron? That couldn’t possibly work, right? If Bryant can deal with giving up the ball a bit, I don’t see why not. Great players should be flexible and Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest. As mentioned earlier, LeBron has always wanted the big stage and there isn’t a bigger stage than the stadium that Jack Nicholson calls home. There are a variety of speed bumps here, like Kobe’s huge salary and a poor supporting team, but maybe LeBron will embrace the idea of a team with nothing on its plate that he can help build for numerous championship runs. It would certainly be interesting…
3. Cleveland Cavaliers
Wouldn’t this be the perfect fairy tale ending? The prodigal son returns home to give the decimated Cleveland fan base a championship. It may seem crazy, but it’s still possible. Cleveland can offer James top dollar and has an impressive roster that could take the next step with James in the mix. Imagine him lining up beside their plethora of top draft picks like Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson. They are shaping up to be an exciting team and the addition of James would accelerate their project. If the fans would accept him back (of course they will, they’re dying for a winning team), this may be James’ best chance to join a team with a young core that can help win now and well into the future.
2. Chicago Bulls
He’s consistently compared to Jordan, so why not join the team that Jordan became famous with? They are an early favorite to land Carmelo Anthony and were one of the finalists for James’ signature back in 2010. So, all signs point to Chicago being involved in the chase for LeBron James. The only stalling point here might lie in the knees of Derrick Rose. James wants to win and he wants to win consistently. A big 3 of Rose, Noah and James would certainly allow him to do that. The only problem is that Rose is rarely on the court as he’s been routinely battling knee injuries ever since his MVP year. If Rose can convince James he’s healthy, this is a match that is quite possible.
1. Miami Heat
Sometimes this grass isn’t greener on the other side. If James is truly all about winning, then maybe he’ll want to stay with a team that has made 4 straight Finals appearances. On top of that, if James wants to make a lot of money, he should stay in Miami because they can offer him the largest contract. However, there are other issues at hand here. LeBron opted out because had he not, and if Wade and Bosh didn’t opt out either, then Miami would’ve been up against the cap with no ability to improve going into next year. For this big 3 to stay together, all 3 must take pay cuts so the rest of the roster can be improved. This will be an interesting storyline to watch develop over the next few weeks. If Wade or Bosh choose to make a large payday, LeBron will take his talents elsewhere. Hopefully this time, he won’t tell everyone about it on TV.