As we inch closer to NBA free agency, LeBron Watch is approaching its peak.
The Lakers and Cavaliers are still considered James’ most likely destinations, but the Sixers are still a wild card that could step in and ruin things.
“I think it’s Philly, Cleveland or L.A. with Cleveland or L.A. being the two real choices and Philly sort of being there,” Brian Windhorst of ESPN said on The Lowe Post podcast Friday. Windhorst wanted to make clear that he's not reporting these things, but is giving his "informed opinion."
Another interesting nugget from Windhorst, who knows James just about as well as any media personality, is that he believes a decision will be made by July 3. It is worth noting that in the past, it’s taken James 10 and nine days to reach his free-agent decisions.
Free Agency Analytics: LeBron James has taken an average of 9.5 days to choose his next destination in his two previous July trips to the open market— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 25, 2018
The Sixers have two young franchise cornerstones in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Clearly Embiid and Simmons are more talented than anyone on the Lakers’ or Cavs’ rosters.
If the Sixers were to acquire Spurs star Kawhi Leonard, it’s possible that could be enough to entice James. Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer wrote a piece Tuesday outlining that exact possibility. O’Connor mentions the possible trade scenarios and the cost cutting it would take to acquire both James and Leonard.
It’s certainly feasible, though the Sixers would have to lose players like Dario Saric and Markelle Fultz and maybe even their most-recently acquired assets in first-round pick Zhaire Smith and the unprotected Heat pick in 2021. O’Connor even mentions a scenario where the Sixers snag James and Leonard and still re-sign JJ Redick.
As far as current roster and future roster flexibility goes, the Sixers seem to offer the most.
But what matters most to James as he nears his decision? Windhorst believes that James being “happy” and close to his family, currently living in L.A., takes precedence over how a team’s roster is constructed.
When pressed, Windhorst believes the Lakers have a 51 percent chance to sign James, while the Cavs come in at 40, leaving the Sixers at just nine percent.
So you’re telling me there’s a chance!