The NBA is a fast-moving world.
Two years ago if you had told the average NBA fan that LeBron James would be back in Cleveland in 2016, that would’ve been a stunner. If you had told them at that time that Stephen Curry would be leading a team that was poised to break the Bulls’ all-time single-season win record – that would’ve qualified as a shocker as well.
So who knows what the league landscape will look like in 2018? Hell, who knows what it will look like by this coming Fourth of July?
With LeBron dropping hints left and right that he wants to form a superteam with “The Brotherhood” (Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul), here is a look at the odds of where that superteam would be constructed:
As hated as LeBron was when he bolted Cleveland in favor of Miami six years ago, that would be nothing compared to the amount of vitriol he would face not just in Ohio – but worldwide – if he ditched the Cavs again. LeBron is a lot of things but he is no dummy. His brand would be ruined if he left Cleveland again without delivering on his promise of a title. And if you haven’t noticed – LeBron cares a whole hell of a lot about his “brand.”
The Cavs also have flexibility that the other teams on this list don’t have. They would be dealing from a position of power when it comes to potential blockbuster trades. Kyrie Irving for Carmelo? Kyrie for Chris Paul? Kevin Love to New York? Kevin Love to his hometown of LA? Kevin Love to Boston in that crazy three-way deal that was rumored a few months back?
If the Cavs want to go in this direction, they have the power to do so. Hard to imagine they suddenly stop catering to LeBron’s wishes.
New York 10/1
The Knicks will have cap space going forward, around $20 – 30 million this summer. That would obviously be a great thing if they were to entertain absorbing the hefty contracts of LeBron (even though he said he’d take a paycut), Wade and/or Paul. To create this superteam in Manhattan, Phil Jackson would need to part with his most prized possession in Kristaps Porzingis. While the Knicks haven’t had a young piece like Porzingis in decades, even the most cynical New York fan would eventually come around to the realization that this Brotherhood superteam would almost guarantee them a trip to the NBA Finals for two or three straight seasons. Oh, and there’s no way Phil WOULD NOT come down out of the luxury box to coach this team.
Would LeBron return to South Beach? The chances are slim but – like previously mentioned – it was once hard to believe LeBron would ever return to Cleveland. Pat Riley has been choosing his words carefully lately in regards to the man he daily referred to as “GOAT.” He defended James in January when a report popped up that James, at one time, wanted the Heat to fire Erik Spoelstra.
And then there were those pictures of LeBron hanging with Wade in South Beach earlier this month.
The Heat suddenly have some interesting young chips that they could trade out to create South Beach Superteam Part Deux as well. Hassan Whiteside (free agent this summer) and Justise Winslow both have tremendous value around the league.
Los Angeles 16/1
This one goes for the Clippers and Lakers. The Clips would have to deal Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan to make this work. That’s giant hurdle No. 1. A smaller issue: the Doc Rivers – LeBron dynamic is unclear. Paul Pierce once thought that James was trying to steal Rivers when he was head coach of the Celtics. Former Rivers assistant Tyronn Lue could probably tell Rivers how much of a headache LeBron can be (as if he doesn’t already know). In a recent Bill Simmons podcast, Simmons talked about how there might be some bad blood lingering between LeBron and Rivers from those Celtics days. Who knows where the two stand?
As for the Lakers, they’re always in the mix when it comes to major transactions and now they have cap space to play with. But it’s not like the Lakers franchise is starved for a title. If LeBron wins a title for the Lakers, what does that really accomplish for him legacy-wise? He’ll never be as popular a figure for that franchise as a Kobe or Magic, because he’s not a lifelong Laker. It would just seem like an odd fit – even though it’s with the league’s marquee franchise.