The Cavaliers did their best to keep LeBron James in Cleveland longterm, making a bevy of trades before last week's trade deadline to get younger, better at shooting and give James a more cohesive unit to play with.
But the jury is still out as to whether the moves will keep the 2018 NBA All-Star MVP in his hometown past this season. He controls his own destiny and there is much buzz about a potential move to Los Angeles, Houston or even Golden State. After all, the Cavs as currently put together are not among the NBA's superteams and are not even favored to win the East, let alone an NBA Finals.
In polls conducted by ESPN during the All Star Break in L.A., the Sixers received votes from a sample of 48 players who were asked questions like "Where will LeBron play in 2018-19?" and "Which coach should LeBron play for?"
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Interestingly, it was the 76ers who got the most votes in an unlikely poll question, "What rumored team should LeBron NOT play for?"
Which makes sense. They are young, already have an All-Star starter in Joel Embiid and surefire future multiple All-Star in Ben Simmons. They have lept from the depths of the NBA draft lottery to prime playoff positioning and with the easiest schedule left in the league this year they could be slated as high as No. 4. A Sixers team that allows James to play with young and athletic players and to reinvent himself in his late-30s could be a lethal opposition in years to come.
What's the evidence, besides conjecture and pontification?
Well, James has always been very complimentary about the Sixers — particularly Embiid — who has become one of the more interesting personalities in all of sports.
"Off the court he's just being himself," James said of Embiid this weekend. "He is who he is. That's special. When you're authentic, I think people gravitate toward that."
And then there's Simmons, who shares an agent with James and posted quite the tantalizingly teasing Instagram post this weekend.
A lot stands between Philadelphia and James — and the odds still are very much against it happening. But if you ask Simmons, who cites the June 30th deadline for free agents to sign with new teams, anything can happen. And it might.