Father's Day Collection | T-Shirts, Hats, Polos, Crewnecks, Q-Zips and MoreSHOP NOW

Advertisement

LeBron Apparently Doesn't Want To Talk About His Future (Wink Wink) Which Means It's The Perfect Time To Power Rank His Next Team

AAron Ontiveroz. Getty Images.

Advertisement

Alright, so nobody believes this stuff right? As much as LeBron wants to make it seem like he doesn't want to talk about his future or people shouldn't waste their time on it, you know in reality he loves every bit of it. This is certainly not the only time we've been in this position with LeBron throughout his 21 years in the NBA, and it's pretty much par for the course whenever his team gets knocked out of the playoffs.

So, just like we did with Kevin Durant after his Suns were swept, it's time to power rank LeBron's options now that the Lakers have been gentlemen swept.

LeBron's situation is a bit different than KDs, mostly because he has a player option for $51M for next season as opposed to a guaranteed 2 more years like Durant.

If you put any stock into Windy's reporting, he's out here suggesting that LeBron is turning that player option down and becoming an UFA this summer

Advertisement

Now it's very important to remember that turning down his player option and opting into UFA does not mean LeBron is 100% leaving the Lakers. That's pretty standard operation procedure for many players in LeBron's spot. You turn down the player option to sign a longer term deal, and in LeBron's case, that's most likely another 1+1 or maybe even a 2+1 type contract.

What it does do is open up his options. The big question is what happens with Bronny and how that impacts his decision

because as a UFA and someone who has more money than God, it's entirely possible that LeBron doesn't need a team to have max cap space in order for him to go there. That's a different wrinkle than the KD situation where if you want to trade for him, you have to find a way to make the money work. I don't think LeBron is playing for the MLE or anything like that, but for all we know he'd take a cut to join a good team that might draft his kid.

With that in mind, let's go through some options

1. Los Angeles Lakers

Just like in the KD blog, staying put is still #1 on my power rankings. Why? Because I've lived through this LeBron dance before. Nobody is better at making their front office sweat by putting pressure on them to do whatever they think he wants than LeBron. By opting out and having the ability to leave the Lakers for nothing, he now holds all the power. That's Step 1 in the LeBron offseason playbook. In previous seasons that's meant giving him the money he wants or the type of contract he wants. Maybe that means executing the trades he wants. This year, it could very well mean drafting Bronny or firing the coach and hiring whoever LeBron wants, or both.

Considering these reports about Bronny and the fact that the Lakers can pay LeBron the most money, I do think his staying in LA has to be the leader in the clubhouse at this point. 

You just have to hope that he feels Rob Pelinka can still build an actual team around him, because if not well then the Lakers are cooked.

2. Philadelphia 76ers

My reasoning for having Philly this high is the same for LeBron as it was for KD. Of the teams with potentially max cap space available ($55M), the Sixers are going to be big game hunting this summer. We're already hearing whispers about them being interested in high priced wings

Advertisement

and should LeBron hit the market, there's no reason why the Sixers shouldn't add him to their list as well. This is a situation where all you have to do is give up the cash, which the Sixers have more than enough of. When you look at the Bronny angle, the 16th pick might be a little high, but the Sixers also own pick #41. Knowing Daryl Morey's obsession of star hunting as well as the position of need on the roster, is it all that crazy to think this is possible?

Plus, what if LeBron looks around and says you know what? I need to get my ass out of the West and back into the conference I dominated for a decade. If you're looking for competitive teams to join in that conference, the Sixers fit that bill. 

3. New York Knicks

It'll take some work to figure out the money in some sort of S&T, but you can figure that out. Send the Lakers back Julius Randle or something since that would be better than getting nothing for LeBron, and fill in whatever needs to be added to make the money work.

My reasoning for the Knicks is pretty similar to the Sixers. They're right there. They've been smart about their free agent signings and trades so they could be well positioned should something like this occur. While they may not "need" LeBron, it's certainly not out of the realm of possibility that this is the move their front office has been waiting to pounce on.

In terms of the Bronny angle, the Knicks have 2 first round picks at 24 & 25, and then another pick at 35. They are one of the few options who have high enough contracts to put together a potential S&T while also having a plethora of picks to bring in Bronny while it not being the only pick they make. 

If LeBron is presented with an option that would bring him into a lineup of Brunson/DiVincenzo/OG/LeBron/Robinson, that's one hell of a starting unit. Remember, the Knicks have Bogdanovic's $19M or Burks' $19M (cap hold) to pair with Randle's $30M, so even if LeBron signs another short team deal that pays him $50M+, it's very easy for the Knicks to get to that number while also giving the Lakers the necessary picks. 

4. Dallas Mavericks

If we're going to talk about the S&T route, I feel like you cannot ignore the Mavs. This would require LeBron to take a bit of a haircut on his salary, as the Mavs can only take back around $29.9M in salary if you think the S&T package would be centered around Tim Hardaway Jr ($16.1M) and another 10M+ player (say, Maxi Kleber at $11M). 

But we all know about LeBron/Kyrie's connection. There were rumors the two were going to try and team up again while all the BKN drama was going on, and this is another chance for the Mavs to make a splash (and keep Luka happy). The Bronny angle is a bit tougher as the Mavs only have pick #58, but there's always the possibility of moving up.

You don't think a Luka/Kyrie/LeBron trio would be enticing for LeBron at this stage of his career? Especially if we witness the Mavs make a deep run this year? I'm not sure how you could rule it out. My guess is LeBron is going to want to join a team that still has a shot at contention, and the Mavs in theory do provide that. 

5. Los Angeles Clippers

I'm only putting the Clippers here with the idea that they lose Paul George in free agency. The Clippers are another team that have a good amount of mid to high sized salaries to make a S&T work, and while it feels VERY weird to think of a world where the Clippers and Lakers execute a trade, at the end of the day losing LeBron for nothing would be a disaster. 

The Clippers own the 46th pick in the draft for the Bronny angle, and then there's the whole LeBron wouldn't have to move thing. Everything he likes about being in LA he gets to keep, only now he's playing for the other team. I also don't rule out the fact that the Clippers are opening a new arena that they can make LeBron the face of, especially since who knows what the hell is going on with Kawhi's health. 

Advertisement

A trio of Harden (should they extend him/Kawhi/LeBron is old, but pretty fucking good. He'd be playing for an owner that clearly doesn't give a shit about making win now trades or spending a shit ton of money, which is exactly what LeBron demands from his teams. 

So while just like with Durant my gut says LeBron is staying put, there are certainly some interesting options should we get there this summer. The first step is of course the Draft and to seeing where Bronny ends up, but with the draft capital available combined with where these teams are within the league, it wouldn't shock me at all if he ends up somewhere else on this list.