The King has been dethroned. Yes, LeBron James remains the NBA’s best player, but make no mistake, the league belongs to the Golden State Warriors. While James’s Cavaliers toil in third place in a weak Eastern Conference, the Warriors are a half game back in the West, comfortably ahead of San Antonio and unafraid of losing home court to Houston. If the season ended today, Cleveland would likely face a gauntlet of Milwaukee, Boston, and Toronto just to make it to the Finals, where they will inevitably be annihilated by Golden State. To make matters worse, with the departure of Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers clearly lack a championship caliber second option. While Kevin Love remains a perennial All-Star, he lacks the ability to take over playoff games. To put it frankly, Cleveland just isn’t good enough. The Cavaliers do not have the tools to reload around LeBron. Putting Tristan Thompson on one of the worst contracts in NBA history has left them highly inflexible. They are already paying record luxury tax figures, so even if they were able to trade the Brooklyn pick for another star, they wouldn’t be able to pay him. Additionally, LeBron’s relationship with Dan Gilbert has apparently imploded. The writing is on the wall. It’s best for both sides to move on.
The Cavaliers have a high pick in an absolutely loaded draft and have acquired several young assets to move, either for new picks or simply to get back under the salary cap. LeBron has the ability to pick any team he wants and let them figure out how to make it work. With all this being said, let’s take a look at the top five destinations for LeBron James.
5. New York: Even though Kristaps Porzingis is injured, a Porzingis – LeBron frontcourt is the stuff of dreams in the modern NBA. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee are more than capable off-ball shooters as well as good defenders; perfect for playing with LeBron. Plus, Knicks fans have suffered enough, and it would be great for the league to have contenders in Madison Square Garden. Added bonus: LeBron gets to stay in the East, which has basically been handing him Finals appearances on a platter since he went to Miami.
4. Portland: There may be some juggling to be done in terms of salary cap, but Damian Lillard would be the perfect scoring guard to compliment LeBron as a second option. As much as he’s accomplished as the number one option, he would be a truly elite number two. Imagine what Nike could do with their billion dollar man less than thirty minutes away.
3. Los Angeles (Clippers): While the Clippers lack the talent of the other options on this list, they have a lot more flexibility. LeBron could seamlessly replace Doc Rivers as coach and GM, and if they can get Paul George to detour from the Lakers. You could do a lot worse than George, LeBron, and DeAndre Jordan as a frontcourt.
2. Los Angeles (Lakers): This is the option that has me the most excited. Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram both look like future All-Stars, and while they might not be ready to fill that role next season, they will both be excellent role players for LeBron. #PG2LA might as well be written in stone, and a small ball lineup of Ball, Ingram, George, LeBron, and Kyle Kuzma should have every hoops fan drooling.
1. Houston: Two words. Banana. Boat. Given how competitive Houston has been this season with Golden State with their current roster, I’m already salivating over a Houston – Golden State Western Conference Finals. It reads like a superhero movie. LeBron reemerging after defeat rearmed with enough ammo to take down the team we all love to hate. I’d even go so far as to say Houston plus LeBron would be favored in that matchup.