LeBron James wants championships. He’s not afraid to work hard. He’s not afraid to demonstrate consistency at a higher level that most would think barely possible. But he also knows he can’t do it alone.
As Dwyane Wade’s and Chris Bosh’s shots stopped falling and the bench production continued to fail, LeBron felt the mounting pressure of trying to make the Heat produce under the relentless passing attack of the San Antonio Spurs. As he sat on the bench in the last few minutes of game 5 of the NBA Finals, you could see LeBron thinking on his future. Thinking hard.
This morning, on June 24 of 2014, LeBron’s agent declared that James would become a free agent on July 1. The sports world has exploded with theorems and postulates, assumptions and examinations on what Lebron James might do and where he might go.
The simple answer is anywhere he f*cking wants to. The real answer? Out of thirty NBA franchises only seven truly have a shot at landing the biggest whopper in professional sports.
#7 New York
Carmelo Anthony is gone and New York is barren of bonafide stars. The good news is on their side though. They have Phil Jackson as President of Basketball Operations, Derek Fisher’s experience with the triangle as coach and enough cap space to seduce a massive talent.
Although New York may be short on championship player pedigree, they have the back office championship power to potentially become a contender with James and a couple of well-placed free agents. Will LeBron be willing to wait a couple of years while the Knicks get their act together though?
#6 Oklahoma City
OKC has the youth and heart to win in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. But neither of them have been able to get over that championship hump, even when they had James Harden.
In order to really make that hard championship run they need someone else to do the heavy lifting. Enter, LeBron.
The problem? They can’t pay him. OKC is over cap space by a long yard and Durant and Westbrook can’t restructure their deals until ‘16 and ‘17 respectively. If they did sign him, they’d take a MASSIVE luxury tax hit that might cut deep into their profitability. They could probably sell that massive Larry O’Brien trophy to make up the losses though.
#5 Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers have $12 million in cap space, a few players who are looking to test free agency, a bona fide point guard in Chris Paul, a power forward for the ages in Blake Griffin and a shot blocker in DeAndre Jordan.
In order to make room for a massive LeBron James contract, one of those three might have to go. However, if LeBron is willing to take a decent pay cut, he could be the defensive spark they’ve needed in order to make a genuine play for the title.