As you’ve heard by now, LeBron opted out of his final year with the Miami Heat. So every team desperate and deluded enough is clearing cap space with the hope that they’ll be able to convince LeBron to join their team. The thing is, there are only really five teams with legitimate chances to get LeBron. Zach Lowe mentioned the Hawks and Suns as other unlikely candidates, but all he is saying is that they have the requisite cap space to get LeBron. He’d never go to either of those teams, even if they’re not that bad. Who really has a chance at getting LeBron?
1) Miami Heat
They’re still the most likely scenario for LeBron. He knows their management, respects Pat Riley’s judgement, and still made the Finals last season with its weak roster. LeBron opting out is merely a ploy to motivate the Heat and get Micky Arison to spend more money. It’s a move to push Wade and Bosh to restructure their deals and take much less money. This is the least exciting move LeBron could make. The Heat would need to show LeBron they’re going to completely alter the bench and add some real contributors and fresh legs. Let’s all hope he leaves Miami so that the bandwagons fans in Miami can disappear again. They don’t deserve a good team.
2) Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron probably won’t go back to Cleveland, unless some trades are made in the next few days leading up to the draft. Why would he go back? The Cavs don’t exactly have an attractive situation. Kyrie Irving is pretty good, but let’s not overstate the talents of a young stat-hunting guard who’s never been on a winning team. Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson? Please. They are not starters on a championship team. And Anthony Bennett? It’s not time to give up on him just yet, but last season raised serious questions about his game. Cleveland is obviously the sentimental pick. It would be kind of cool seeing him bring a title to such a cursed sports city, but who really wants to see LeBron reward a hapless franchise that is among the least competent in all of sports? And, let’s not forget how they acted when he left for Miami.
3) Los Angeles Clippers
Off talent alone, this is the place to go. It could work a couple of different of ways. They could do a sign-and-trade involving Blake Griffin for LeBron. Or, they could try to clear just about every contract, other than CP3’s and Blake’s and then make room for LeBron.
That would leave them with a Big 3 that Miami’s Big 3 pales in comparison to. CP3, Blake, and LeBron would be more athletic, younger, and better than teaming back up with Bosh and Wade. This is the type of scenario that would spark the most LeBron hate. Every writer and expert would claim that LeBron isn’t a winner and can’t do it himself, all while praising how the Spurs had 12 very good players this year and the Heat had one. It’s Skip Bayless trash that doesn’t deserve an outlet. Even if clearing all those contracts doesn’t work out, and they decided to go ahead and trade Blake, the Clippers would still be one on the favorites, with a CP3-Jamal Crawford-LeBron-DeAndre nucleus.
4) Houston Rockets
LeBron ending up in Houston seems less likely because he doesn’t have close ties to Howard or Harden like he does with Chris Paul. Houston’s roster is the second most attractive to the Clippers,’ but having Howard take up so much space in the paint isn’t ideal for a team with LeBron. The spacing might not work like it did in Miami with their free-flowing offense. It’s unlikely that LeBron will head to the Western Conference because that poses a significantly harder path to the Finals than in the East. Nonetheless, the Rockets have a roster ready to win and won 54 games without LeBron. Imagine what they’d do with him.
5) Chicago Bulls
The most underrated suitor out there. They’ve already been targeting Arron Afflalo recently. A core of Rose-Jimmy Butler-Afflalo-LeBron-Taj-Noah automatically is the favorite in the East. Heck, the Bulls won 48 games with just Noah, Taj, and Butler. They’d easily win 60 games with LeBron, Afflalo, and a healthier Rose. That team would be deeper than any of LeBron’s other options. Those players are all under 30 years old, so competing for titles for the next four years would be very realistic.