DJ Bean: Projecting the best and worst LeBron scenarios for Celtics
Best and worst LeBron scenarios for Celtics
The NBA offseason is about to get crazy and LeBron James will serve as the Mentos dropped in the Coca-Cola.
By the time the floor is mopped up, the Celtics could range from being title favorites to not even being the favorite in their own conference. What LeBron does and who follows whom where matters that much.
So let's run through the good scenarios and the bad. Many of these scenarios are unrealistic for various reasons, but we'll try to keep this relatively within reason. In other words, there won't be anything about LeBron and Durant signing in Boston for an autographed Tatum jersey.
BEST-CASE SCENARIO: LeBron to Boston, Paul George to Lakers, Kawhi and Pop kiss and make up
Hey, let's start off nice and unrealistic. The only way Celtics fans could have held onto any hope of getting LeBron would have been if he opted into the final year of his contract with the Cavaliers, which would have left the possibility of a trade open. The Celtics don't have the cap space to sign him as a free agent, so a whole lot of things that won't happen would have to happen in order for him to end up in Boston.
Let's say the Celtics can figure out a way to get him. They would go from already being the favorites in the East to being the favorites to win the NBA title. The East would not even be competitive.
Now imagine Paul George goes to the Lakers as expected and Kawhi Leonard somehow decides he wants to stay in San Antonio for the long haul. Both the Lakers and the Spurs would be on the path to building something, adding competition to a Western Conference that already has two of the best teams in the NBA.
GREAT SCENARIO: LeBron to Cleveland, Paul George and Kawhi to Lakers
Call me old-fashioned, but I like the idea of LeBron in Cleveland. I'm torn because, on one hand, I like seeing the best players play on great teams (if you disagree, you can throw away your Patriots jersey), and the Cavaliers aren't guaranteed to be great.
Yet if the Cavaliers can move some things around, they can at least be competitive in the East, even if they'd be destined to lose to the Celtics. George and Kawhi going to the Lakers would mean three good teams in each conference (Boston, Cleveland, Philadelphia; Golden State, Houston, Lakers).
FINE SCENARIO: LeBron to Houston, whomever to Lakers
LeBron joining a team that came a game away from being the Warriors would be intriguing, to say the least. This would also get LeBron out of the East and keep the Celtics dominant. Everybody else could go to the Lakers in an attempt to make it a three-team race out West.
BAD SCENARIO: LeBron, Kawhi and Paul George to Lakers
I really don't hate this scenario because I would love to see an NBA Finals between this team and the Celtics, especially if it means we also get to see a Western Conference finals between them and the Warriors. That said, there aren't many series in which the Celtics wouldn't have the best player. Against that Lakers roster, the Celtics wouldn't have the second-best player either.
WORST SCENARIO: LeBron to Philly, 76ers trade Fultz (or anyone not named Embiid) for shooters
I'm not scared of LeBron going to Philly because I think that while he wouldn't render Ben Simmons completely useless, he'd render him way less useful. Simmons can't shoot (neither can Markelle Fultz) and LeBron teams are built around giving LeBron the ball and surrounding him with shooters. Joel Embiid is talented enough to adapt to that; not sure the same goes for Simmons or Fultz.
But what if they move those guys for some snipers? It would certainly shorten Philly's window, but it would immediately make them as good as (if not better than) the Celtics. It would take something wild for the Celtics to leave this offseason as anything but the favorites in the East. This would be such a scenario.