LeBron James famously said that his stint with the Miami Heat was like going to college.
He went there to have fun with his buddy Dwyane Wade, and to win titles.
He spent four years in South Florida, from 2010 – 2014. Four years. Ya know, like college.
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I suppose we must now consider LeBron’s second stint with the Cavaliers to be grad school. After another four years, it’s looking like it’ll be time for LeBron to enter the real world in the summer of 2018 by going to a place that is the antithesis of real – Los Angeles. The old LeBron free agency buzz cranked up over the weekend, thanks mostly to Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons (two guys who are tight with one another from their days on the ESPN NBA studio show). You know most of the reasons by now that LeBron would be interested in LA, specifically the Lakers. He has a home in LA, his business ventures are located in LA, he has enormous respect for Lakers boss Magic Johnson, and he wants to be someplace warm.
But would a move to Hollywood make sense for LeBron basketball-wise? He’ll be an old 33 next summer, and he’ll need more help than ever if he wants to continue to make the NBA Finals year-in and year-out.
They’re still THE LAKERS
Now, we can pretend that the Clippers are just as much of an attraction as the Lakers, but LeBron is no dummy. He knows the league history and he knows that the Lakers are an international brand. The Clippers might taste better right now, but they will always be the Moxie to the Lakers’ Coke.
That’s why if LeBron does indeed jump to LA in 2018, he will be heading to the Purple and Gold.
So, it’s up to Magic THIS summer to show LeBron that he’s serious about getting this done, and the best way to do that is to trade for one of LeBron’s buddies in Carmelo Anthony.
Anthony’s trade stock has never been lower, so the Lakers wouldn’t even have to entertain giving up the No. 2 overall pick in this month’s draft to obtain Carmelo. D’Angelo Russell straight-up for Carmelo would absolutely get the job done.
Russell will be expendable anyway with the Lakers more likely than not to draft Lonzo Ball on June 22.
LeBron is extremely PR conscious and knows that of all his Banana Boat buddies, Carmelo has wound up with the worst rap when it comes to an NBA legacy. Even more so than playing again with Wade, LeBron desperately wants to play with Carmelo (for whatever reason). It was just a few months back that LeBron was “at odds” with the Cavaliers front office, because he wanted the organization to trade for the Knicks swingman.
What would this look like?
If the two big moves for the Lakers this summer are to draft Ball and trade for Carmelo, the 2017-18 season will be a weird one in LA. But at the same time, who really cares?
It’ll be entertaining at least.
If you have to swallow your pride for one year, watch Ball work out rookie kinks and watch Carmelo jack up 40 shots a night – so be it in the name of being the prettiest girl at the ball for LeBron in July of 2018.
And then there’s this, the Lakers could potentially still bring in Paul George via free agency next summer as well. Now, this would be a rather old nucleus, but one that would absolutely be in the title mix.
F LeBron James
F Paul George
F Carmelo Anthony
G Dwyane Wade
G Lonzo Ball
F Brandon Ingram
G Jordan Clarkson
F Julius Randle
And for those questioning whether or not Ball could handle the pressure of being asked to run point on a championship caliber team in Year 2, consider that Rajon Rondo did it 10 years ago in his second season with a veteran-laden Celtics team.