Since rejoining the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014, NBA superstar LeBron James has wisely refrained from making a lengthy commitment to the organization by signing short-term contracts that include opt out clauses in efforts to ensure he controls his own fate.
Thus, since James has the power to enter the free agent market again this summer, everyone who is anyone in NBA circles has an opinion about what LeBron should do following the conclusion of the 2017-18 season which — at best — will likely end with another disappointing loss in the NBA Finals to the juggernaut Golden State Warriors.
There’s no denying the Cavaliers improved when they blew things up at the trade deadline and sent veterans Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, Isaiah Thomas, and others packing in favor of younger, more athletic players in Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance, Jr., and Rodney Hood. It was clearly a move that was also meant to prove to LeBron James that the franchise is still committed to putting adequate pieces around him for as long as he’s in town.
However, even if Kevin Love flourishes in the playoffs after he makes his triumphant return from a hand injury that has kept him out of action since late January, Cleveland simply isn’t built to usurp Golden State’s throne anytime soon.
Thus, it appears King James’ best chance to return to championship glory is to sign with another organization.
But which one?
Joining his good friend Chris Paul and the NBA’s leading scorer, James Harden, on the Houston Rockets would be ideal for LeBron James. But finding cap space will be a tough chore for Houston’s front office to pull off, assuming James is even open to the idea of living and playing in South Texas.
However, many NBA insiders have repeatedly reported about LeBron James’ alleged desire to join the Los Angeles Lakers, citing his supposed post playing career aspirations as an entertainer, as well as the two mansions he owns in Los Angeles, as his motivation.
Los Angeles Times writer Bill Plaschke recently opined that the time James spent in Los Angeles for the 2018 NBA All-Star Game might have helped the Lakers’ cause.
“LeBron James, this is how it feels to win in Los Angeles. This is how it feels to be a star among stars. This is what happens when Hollywood embraces a superhero.
“This could be you, not just on a Sunday night in the NBA All-Star game, but for entire winters in a Lakers uniform, for the final years of a career in which you are still the best player on the court, every court, every night.”
From a purely basketball perspective, joining the Lakers would be an absolutely terrible mistake for LeBron James. Especially if winning several more rings in effort to catch up with his idol, Michael Jordan, is still something that motivates the 33-year-old future Hall of Famer.
The Lakers incontrovertibly have some interesting pieces in Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and Brandon Ingram on their roster. But all three players are 22-years-old or younger, and have plenty of blossoming to do before they can play major roles on a championship team.
Even if Magic Johnson and company were able to land both James and current Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George, a Los Angeles native who has never been shy about his desire to play for his hometown team, or center DeMarcus Cousins, it hardly guarantees the Lakers would be built to take down Golden State over the next three or so seasons.
As amazing of an athlete as he is, LeBron James isn’t invincible. Put simply, even LeBron will fall victim to Father Time eventually.
James will play most of the 2018-19 campaign as a 34-year-old, and needs to be surrounded by a group of guys who don’t need him to be a star on a nightly basis during the regular season going forward, especially considering he will be expected to dominate in the playoffs.
Sadly for Lakers fans, front office folk, and players alike, joining the “Lake Show” would bring LeBron James no closer to his fourth ring than he already is in Cleveland. It would be a move that would undeniably reek of complacency, and truly be a sad end to the career of arguably one of the three greatest players to ever grace NBA hardwoods.